Jana Sanderson McEachern, who was crowned Miss Alabama in 2000 and competed in the Miss America pageant, passed away at the age of 43 on Thursday, December 15, 2023. She died at her home in Gadsden, Alabama, after a brave fight with cancer. Here is what we know about her life, her achievements, and her cause of death.
A Beauty Queen with a Big Heart
Jana Sanderson was born on June 9, 1980, in Gadsden, Alabama. She graduated from Southside High School and attended Samford University on a full scholarship. She earned a degree in communications and became a successful photographer and marketing specialist.
She also had a passion for pageants and won the title of Miss Alabama in 2000, when she was a student at Samford. She represented her state at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she was one of the top 10 finalists. She impressed the judges and the audience with her talent of singing and her platform of promoting organ donation.
She returned to the Miss Alabama pageant in 2001 as a co-host and remained involved with the organization for many years. She also served as a mentor and a judge for other pageants. She was described by many as a highly talented, intelligent, sweet, and kind soul who brought warmth into every room and charmed everyone she met.
A Co-Creator of a Dream Wedding Venue
Jana Sanderson was also a co-creator of J&D Farms, a wedding and reception venue in Southside, Alabama. She helped design and decorate the farm with her former husband, Danny McEachern, who she married in 2006 and divorced in 2018.
She was known for making hundreds of couples feel at home on the biggest day of their lives. She had an eye for detail and a flair for creativity. She also connected with people from different walks of life and made them feel special and cared for.
She loved traveling, cooking, sampling spicy foods, and taking on challenges. She was also a level 3 certified CrossFit coach and enjoyed working out and staying fit.
A Cancer Fighter with Grace and Dignity
Jana Sanderson was diagnosed with cancer in 2022 and underwent chemotherapy treatments. She faced her illness with grace and dignity that only she could. She never complained about the pain or the side effects of the treatment. Instead, she focused on helping others and spreading joy.
She made care packages for her infusion nurses every week, even when it became hard for her to stand or feel her fingers. She picked out special gifts for each nurse and spent hours wrapping them. She also donated her hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from hair loss due to medical conditions.
She remained optimistic and hopeful until the end. She passed away peacefully at her home on December 15, 2023, surrounded by her loved ones.
A Legacy of Love and Inspiration
Jana Sanderson’s death has left a void in the hearts of many who knew her and admired her. Her family, friends, fans, and colleagues have expressed their condolences and tributes on social media and other platforms.
The Miss Alabama Competition’s Facebook page posted a heartfelt message that read: “We are blessed to have known Jana and to have her represent our state as Miss Alabama. We love and will miss you Jana!”
The J&D Farms’ Facebook page also shared a touching post that said: “We will forever cherish our memories with Jana as we know so many others will as well. We ask that you keep Jana’s family in your thoughts during this difficult time.”
Jana Sanderson’s funeral services were held at College Heights Baptist Church in Gadsden on December 19, 2023. She was laid to rest at Crestwood Cemetery.
Jana Sanderson’s cause of death was cancer, but her legacy of love and inspiration lives on. She touched many lives with her beauty, talent, kindness, generosity, courage, and faith. She will always be remembered as a shining star who brightened up the world with her smile.