Kids with Special Needs Dazzle in Pageant Created by JPII Senior

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Kids with Special Needs Dazzle in Pageant Created by JPII Senior

Katy Beth Boyers, Editor

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On Saturday, April 7, senior Mary Grace Beasley held the “Sparkle Pageant,” a pageant for kids with disabilities. Contestants in the pageant ranged from age six to 18, and parents and friends of the Beasleys and the contestants were in attendance.

This pageant is different, not only because it is for kids with special needs, but it is also a pageant where everyone is a winner and will come home with their own sash and crown or medal. For example, JPII senior Erin Campbell received the title “Queen of JPII.”

Beasley discussed her inspiration for the pageant in an interview on News Channel 2. One of her peers, Isabella Forrester-Kent, told Beasley how she would love to be in a pageant and have her own crown like Beasley received when she was crowned Miss Hendersonville 2017.

“[Isabella] is so sassy and spunky, and she loves princesses, and all that kind of stuff. So when I got this title I was like “This is something that Isabella would love to do. She would love to have a crown like this.”

Mary Grace is a peer mentor in the Hand in Hand program here at JPII, and a few students including Erin Campbell, Isabella Forrester-Kent, Sean Crooks, and Hays Clinard were contestants in the Sparkle Pageant. Some students from JPII including freshman Nolan Beasley, and seniors Cate Kroger, Leah Swan, and Anna Wantz were volunteers at the Sparkle Pageant. Along with that, all proceeds of the pageant are going into the Hand in Hand program here at JPII.

“I thought it would be a great thing for people like Isabella to be able to be in a pageant,” Beasley said.

Along with friends and families in attendance, Pam Eatman, who is in charge of the Hand in Hand program, and Headmaster Mike Deely also attended the pageant and gave their thoughts on the Hand in Hand program and the importance of inclusion.

“The mission of the Hand in Hand program is to provide a Catholic education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities alongside their peers. They are held to the same graduation requirements including our service hours. The Hand in Hand students are students at JPII; they’re athletes, they’re scientists, they’re actresses. They are everywhere,” Mrs. Eatman said while introducing the Sparkle Pageant.

Mr. Deely also came up near the end of the program to thank the Beasley family for putting the pageant together and stress the importance of inclusion and how special these kids are to him and to many others.

“We all know how much time it takes to raise and be a family… when you find people and somehow find that extra time in their life to do these things simply because they love people, it just makes it so special,” Deely said, “I don’t believe any school could put a cross above its building if it doesn’t welcome all… I know for these kids this is a special day, but I also  know that all these kids, they know every day is special, and that’s why they’re so wonderful. That’s why it’s great to be here because every day they remind us. When my head is down or I’m lost in the moments of these stupid things that I worry about, they always remind me about the things that matter.”

At the end of the speech, Mr. Deely mentioned the possibility of the Sparkle Pageant becoming an annual thing that students at JPII could put together in an Innov8 class.

“I thank the Beasley’s for reminding us as a community to come together and do this more often. If you want to do this year after year, we’ll keep doing it. We’ll make it an Innov8 class.”

The Sparkle Pageant was a special event, not only the kids in it, but also for their families and others that were reminded how wonderful life really is and how amazing of an opportunity this is for kids with intellectual or developmental disabilities to shine on stage. Mary Grace did a fantastic job with this event and we will hopefully hear how much money was raised to the Hand in Hand program at JPII.

Here are the contestants and the titles they won Saturday:

Lillian Jones- Sweetest Princess

Emerson Worley- Prettiest Eyes

Kylee Abrams- Happiest Princess

Hannah Dodd- Princess

Lilli Reep- Beautiful Smile

Hays Clinard- Prettiest Smile

Isabella Forrester-Kent- Princess

Sean Crooks- Funniest

Danielle Couts- Happiest

Erin Campbell- Queen of JPII

Check out the recap video of the Sparkle Pageant below!

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