What a Pageant Can Do - Part One

When I first heard about the Miss Amazing pageant, I wanted nothing to do with it. A pageant???? PAA-LEASE!!!!!! In my mind a pageant was the last thing I wanted my daughter to be involved in. After all, she was already in 9 dance classes and had been a cheerleader. Wasn't that bad enough??! I was a mother of four boys before my daughter came into my life by way of surprise. I was nearly 41 when she popped into my baseball, soccer, hockey, kung-fu, sword fighting, knife throwing boy-world. I had already established my 'identity' as a mom of men, teaching them all by the age of 3 how to belch and spit properly (if that can be proper). There was no pink in my house. None. 

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And then....BAM!!! Here she was in August of 1999, ready to rock my world, turn it upside down and bring the color pink with her! I knew little about raising a child with Down syndrome and even less about raising a girl. Even back in the late 80's when I had a home day care, I always had boys. I didn't make that happen. It just did. So I thought I would be the worst mom for a girl. But she trained me. I think she still is at age 18. I find myself 'bending' more easily than I used to. Could it just be my age? Am I just tired and worn out from my boys? Maybe. Nevertheless, she came to change me I believe.

So, earlier this year I get an email from a friend telling me about the Miss Amazing pageant. Right away, I said 'no' to the idea, as we probably had a dance competition to go to that weekend anyway. It was only 10 days until the pageant. We had nothing for her to wear, etc. That friend continued to encourage me to enter her last minute. When I found out that we did not have a competition that weekend, I relented and registered her. I thought, "After all, she'll have fun." So, she worked on choreographing a dance and walking across the stage (she had done some modeling previously). I used a dress that I was saving for a prom she was going to attend in a couple of months. It wasn't a long gown, but it would do. I was just letting her do this to have some fun. I told a few family members, her dance teacher and my good friend about it - last minute of course - and only my friend was able to attend and watch. 

What we experienced was life-changing that day. I watched girls and women with all kinds of disabilities shine like stars. There was a talent portion to the pageant first, which wasn't judged, but probably the most fun of the entire day! Girls were singing and dancing and even playing the kazoo. Women were reciting poetry and signing to "America The Beautiful." I couldn't stop crying. Phoebe tore up the dance floor with her routine as my friend, husband, son, and I cheered her on. Later, the introductions and evening gown portion showcased all the beauties. It truly was 'amazing.' Each participant was crowned and given a trophy. You could tell it was the best day ever for every single one of them. Then, the moment arrived to announce who the lucky one was in each age division to be chosen as the representative for Colorado, to go on to the National Miss Amazing Pageant. 

You guessed it by now, or already knew before you began reading this: she won the title of "Colorado Miss Amazing" in the teen category. She was thrilled, to say the least. I was happy for her. But now what??

Well, the next morning when she woke up a little late from all the celebrating the night before, in her pink camouflage jammies - I stuck her crown back on her head and said, "Okay, Miss Amazing. You have work to do. Being a queen is not just crowns, sashes and photo ops. You will be serving your community." I don't even know where this came from. I didn't have the slightest idea what pageant queens do. But I guess innately I knew that this 'window' of opportunity was a year long and we had to navigate it to help the most people and give her a voice as well. This was it. A title to open doors to who knows what? But I knew she was going to stir things up, rock the world just a bit more, and hopefully make a difference in her community. Here was her chance.