This April I had the pleasure to speak with Ms. Sally Loya the founder and creator of the “Crown of Courage”. Ms Loya is a pocket of fireworks and you could feel the love and passion she has for her work come through the phone lines. It was an honor just to get a glimpse into her world.
Ms. Sally Loya was not always the pageant Queen that you see before you today. She was an EMT for the city of Las Vegas working at the Caesar’s Palace. Ms. Loya married her husband and started to see early signs of abuse but like a lot of women wanting her marriage to work she ignored them. Ms. Sally would continue in this cycle of abuse for eight years. Her husband’s behavior escalated separating Ms. Loya from Family and friends and moving her across country. Eventually the day came when Ms. Loya knew she had to fight or Die. Her husband took her on an eighty-hour hostage road trip during which he became physically abusive and started to strangle her with the intent to kill. Ms. Loya being a fast thinker pretended to play dead and made a deal with God, that if he would deliver her from this situation she would be an instrument for him; using her life as a testimony. Her Husband believing, she was dead left the scene and was arrested hours later.
Ms. Loya kept her promise to God and has gone on to do great things with her second chance at life. She is the holder of not one, but six pageant titles including reigning MS Mexico Wheelchair Universe 2024. Competing and winning these titles have allowed Ms. Loya access to over forty countries to share her story and bring awareness to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Ms. Loya has no plans on slowing down, even when confined to a wheelchair in 2011 due to complications of diabetes, Ms. Loya continues to win titles and strut down the runways at fashion week in New York City rocking the signature colors purple and teal.
Aside from pageantry and strolling fashion week, Ms. Loya has been working on different projects across multiple platforms such as: The Loya Project: Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, FreetobeTruetoyou, and the main event which brings us here tonight, The Crown of Courage.
The Crown of Courage was born in 2021 by Ms. Sally Loya because she felt more was needed to not only bring awareness to Domestic Violence and Assault victims but to also celebrate them, the work they have put into their recovery and those that take that win and run back to grab others that is who the Crown of Courage is made for.
Ms. Loya has searched far and wide for these Women of Courage. From Houston, TX, Canada and as far as South Africa to Crown theses powerful women and tonight We celebrate AV’s very own Mrs. LaToyia Conway-Hampton. The first ever Director of the year Crown of Courage Recipient. Ms. Loya literally gushed with excitement when speaking about Mrs. Conway-Hampton. These powerful ladies met at a 3-day conference held by Mrs. Conway-Hampton in 2021 called “SheRose”. They bonded over their passion to be of service to their community and Tina Turner. We could not ask for a more perfect Queen to Crown our very own.
In wrapping up this interview with Ms. Loya I could not let her go without asking one more important question. When victims go through a traumatic experience, getting into a relationship is the furthest thing from their minds. In her experience with domestic violence had it changed her views on love and relationships? For Ms Loya trust is the hardest thing to rebuilt with any partner after an experience of domestic violence and or sexual assault. For Ms. Loya outside of her father, son and her first husband, it had been one abusive relationship after the other. However, that has not deterred her from wanting love. “I have put in the work and can spot the red flags better now. God will send the right person.”