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Kailia Posey is being remembered by those who knew the late pageant star.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Maureen Francisco – who worked with Posey at her most recent pageant – shared that she was “in shock” when she heard the news.
“When I first saw the post that her mom posted about Kailia, I was in shock, I didn’t believe it. At first, I thought maybe her mother’s Facebook got hacked, so I had to wait. I realized it wasn’t going away, that this is actually real,” Francisco, who is the executive producer of Pageants Northwest, said. “That’s when it really hit me like wow.”
Pageants Northwest oversees Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington pageant qualifiers for Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. Posey competed in the Washington pageant in February and placed second runner-up. She was also awarded the Miss Photogenic award, which was chosen by the public.
“She was such a nice gal, she was so nice to our team, fellow contestants,” Francisco said of the late “Toddlers and Tiaras” star. “I just remember her during pageant weekend, and she was constantly smiling, laughing, and she is a typical teen. The energy around her – she is definitely going to be greatly missed.”
Posey’s mother, Marcy Posey Gatterman, shared the news of her death via Facebook on Monday.
“I don’t have words or any thoughts,” she wrote. “A beautiful baby girl is gone. Please give us privacy as we mourn the loss of Kailia. My baby forever.”
Posey got her start on “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the same TLC show that launched the career of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson.
The TLC show ran for seven seasons and ended in 2016. The show followed families as their young children competed in beauty pageants.
Posey continued to participate in pageants following her time on the show.
“I’m going to be competing in Miss Washington teen USA in February and I am so excited!” she wrote on Instagram.
Francisco shared with Fox News Digital that she was able to work with Posey in the past several months and recognized how much potential the young star had.
“This young woman has so much potential, so much potential, and it’s just hard to wrap your mind around someone with so much potential and how they are gone too soon,” Francisco said. “Again, the family has been nothing but nice to Pageants Northwest, Kailia has been wonderful to work with, with our team, with our fellow contestants just absolutely nice.”
“That’s what I am going to remember most is her kindness.”
Francisco went on to detail the type of girl Posey was and the effect that she had on people during the pageant weekend.
“When you’re around her automatically want to smile or laugh because that is what she pours out of her,” Francisco began. “She is constantly smiling, and I remember right before interviews with the judges she was nervous and when she was finished with interviews she was smiling again.”
Francisco continued: “When you are around her, you automatically want to smile, and she’s just this bubbly teen. When you see someone with just so much energy, so much enthusiasm, she is fun.”
Francisco recalled a moment during the Miss Washington Teen USA pageant where Posey’s personality was put on display.
“I remember when I was emceeing the pageant, and she answered her top five question she had the whole audience laughing, and I was trying really hard not to smile as well because I didn’t want to show favoritism,” Francisco began. “That’s the kind of energy she gives. Again, going to be greatly missed, and I am still racking my mind that this is real.”
Francisco concluded her statement with: “She is gonna be missed, I mean this is a huge loss to the pageant community, to the world and just so much potential.”
In her family’s statement on Tuesday, they echoed Francisco’s statement, sharing that their “hope is that” Posey “will be remembered for her sweet spirit and the way she touched so many lives in a positive way.”
The family shared that Posey died by suicide, and that they have set up a Whatcom Community Foundation fund in Posey’s name with all contributions going to “providing resources to help students in crisis.”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Fox News’ Larry Fink and Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.