By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN — The smile on the face of Alexis Brown is as bright as the sparkling jewels on her crown.
The Goshen Middle School eighth-grader, who attends classes for students with moderate and severe cognitive impairment, was recently crowned 2014 Miss Amazing Junior Teen in the Indiana Miss Amazing pageant at Hannah & Friends facility in South Bend.
“It was neat,” Alexis said.
The Miss Amazing program provides opportunities for girls and women from ages 5 to 35 with special needs.
Alexis is the daughter of Kasey and Jerry Brown of Goshen.
“She was pretty excited. It was an awesome experience for her as well as for me,” her mother, Kasey Brown said, smiling. “The girls were paired up with a buddy and the buddy was with them the entire day. I recommend going to the final show or being a volunteer. It was neat and (we) had a good time.”
Brown said she had heard about the Miss Amazing pageants on a “Dateline” program a few years ago and was disappointed that Indiana didn’t have a pageant at the time.
“I heard this past fall that Indiana had a pageant and I went online and filled out an application for Alexis,” her mother said. “It’s about inner beauty and not outer beauty. The girls were being who they are — themselves. They weren’t nervous onstage. They were waving and smiling. They were making new friends.”
The entry fee for each participant in the pageant was five canned goods, so it doesn’t put a strain on the family’s finances, Brown added.
And the families can decide how much to spend for the outfits each girl wears for the interview, introduction and evening wear areas of the competition.
“We found Alexis’ gown at Ashley Rene’s (in Elkhart). We had fun picking out her dress. She liked the purple dress,” Brown said.
“It had lots of bling,” Alexis added, giggling.
They bought her outfit for the interview at Wal-Mart, a black-and-white polka dot dress and added a white sweater.
Each contestant had an interview with three different judges, who asked simple questions to get to know the girls better, Brown said.
During the day, the girls practiced walking and turning onstage for the formal wear presentation and students from Vogue School of Beauty in Mishawaka fixed the girls’ hair and makeup.
“I liked wearing the dress and the makeup,” Alexis said, about her experience.
For the final show, there was clapping and cheering as the 21 contestants were escorted onstage and when the queens were announced, especially when her daughter’s name was given, Brown cried.
“It was very touching and everybody was touched. I was emotional all day long and then when Lexi won I think everything just poured out. I was so proud of her as well as all the other girls,” Brown said, with tears in her eyes. “When society tells you these kids are not worth anything or can’t do anything and then you see these girls loving life, making friends, having a blast being who God created them to be, it is beyond beautiful. I believe society could learn a lot from these beautiful ladies.”
Alexis will reign as queen for a year and has the opportunity to go as the Indiana representative to the national competition in Omaha, Neb., in August.
“I’m hoping to bring awareness to the organization with Lexi winning,” Brown said. “There were only 21 who participated in the pageant and there is more with special needs in Goshen than that. This helps build confidence in the girls. It builds up their self-esteem and friendships are built among the girls. It’s something to treasure, because they got to know each other and built each other up. We tend to worry about the little things but these girls went out and shined. Obviously with her winning, it will open doors to have other girls have the same experience, I hope. I’m glad we did it and she had a blast.”
The family is seeking sponsors for Alexis to represent Indiana at the national competition in Omaha, Neb. For more information, contact the family at email@example.com or 831-4584.