Miss Pa. Talks About Mother’s Rape, Hopes To “Shed Light” On Sexual Abuse

By Jessica Berardino

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Although Valerie Gatto holds the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA and has aspirations of winning the Miss USA Pageant, she insists she’s more than just another pretty face.

Gatto says what’s most important to her is to be able to inspire others with hers and her mother’s story.

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Raised by her mother and grandparents, Gatto says her birth was the product of her mother’s rape.

However, her mother was able to overcome her horrific ordeal and made the difficult decision to keep Valerie, as a 20-year-old single woman — putting aside her plans to study law at the University of Miami.

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” said Gatto. “My mother and grandparents taught me to stay positive and make sacrifices. Things weren’t easy for us, but I had everything because of their sacrifices and hard work.”

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Gatto, a religious woman who grew up in a non-denominational church, also praises her mother for never considering abortion. However, she says her participation in the pageant isn’t driven by her personal politics.

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“I hope to make a difference and shed a light on sexual assault and rape for young women,” said Valerie. “And to just inspire young children, no matter where you come from you can do anything you want.”

Be sure to click on the audio links to hear more of Gatto’s story and her take on what it’s like in the pageant world.

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To learn more about Valerie, visit her website: www.valeriegatto.com.

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