MISS AMAZING PAGEANT Queens, princesses and shooting stars Everyone wins in the Miss Amazing pageant
Everyone was a winner in the first-ever statewide Miss Amazing pageant held in April at Moravian College in Bethlehem. Contestants practiced skills and gained self-confidence, volunteers and sponsors left knowing they had made a positive difference in others’ lives, and audience members shared the joy of achievement with those on stage.
Ten girls and women, ranging from preteens to 35+, participated in the event sponsored by Pennsylvania Miss Amazing, a division of Miss Amazing Inc., a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build their self-confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment.
Local pageant contestants vied for recognition of their abilities in three phases: the interview, evening gowns and talent.
Pennsylvania Miss Amazing Director Amy Behrend explained talking and performing before a supportive audience is a way for those with disabilities to gain poise and develop public speaking skills.
The enthusiastic audience of mostly volunteers and Moravian College students cheered loudly and often as Mrs. Pennsylvania Kate Schartel Novak, of Pennsburg, introduced each contestant and described their special qualities and ambitions:
Reilly Bauer, of Lansford, has a soft heart, swims on a team and wants to be a singer.
Kassie Mundhenk, of Kintersville, is considerate and caring and wants to be a model and actress.
Kelsey Anthony, of Northampton, is smart and sentimental, and a great dancer who wants to go to college and get a job with Disney.
Rickie Fraticeli, of Allentown, has a positive attitude, wants to go to Florida and to get married
Kimberly Lagala, of Allentown, is fun and outgoing, and would like to help children with special needs.
Janice Slater, of Moscow, is willing to do what she needs to in order to get others to smile. She would like to be as happy and independent as possible.
Kristina Kollar, of Allentown, is very creative and would like to get a competitive job in the local community.
Monica Bezek, of Peckville, is caring and thoughtful, holds down two jobs and wants to work as much as she can.
Lilly Davila, of Whitehall, enjoys dressing nice and wearing fancy jewelry. She would like to take care of horses and spend more time with her family.
Tammy Hallock, of Peckville, loves to make others laugh, loves polka music and would like to be as independent as possible.
Registration for the pageant was open to contestants five years and older from the entire state. Two young girls from the Pittsburgh area were unable to attend at the last minute because of hospitalizations. The only requirement to register was proof of a physical or developmental disability. The registration fee was five canned food items which are given back to the community.
A panel of five volunteer judges who met with contestants before the public phase, sat in the front row of the auditorium to observe how the women conducted themselves on stage. All the judges have backgrounds working with the developmentally disabled and persons with special needs.
When the time came for awards everyone got a medal hung around her neck after the talent competition — the reward for participating and persevering. The final judging was more about recognition than competition, with each contestant being named either a queen, princess or shooting star. Each also was given a rhinestone crown and a bouquet of flowers.
The Miss Amazing movement was founded in Omaha, Neb., in 2007 by a then 13-year-old Jordan Somer, a former Miss Nebraska Teen winner. Since then it has expanded to 30 states across the country. As CEO of Miss Amazing, Somer says, “I want to redefine the word ‘beauty.’ It is confidence, your heart and your soul that makes you beautiful.”
Last year, Miss Amazing held its third annual national event in conjunction with the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. This year, the nationals will be held in Chicago with an estimated 1,000 persons expected to attend.