"I am not defined by my disability, I am unstoppable!" said Rebecca, after being crowned this year's Miss Unstoppable.
The Miss Unstoppable Pageant seeks to empower girls with developmental disabilities to not allow their challenges to define them. And the winner of the third annual competition, which was held in Wichita, Kansas, is the true emodiment of that message.
The pageant is open to girls with developmental disabilities, ages 5 and older. But according to The Mighty, it is no walk in the park to being crowned. The girls prepare for their big day in two workshops, one held in the fall and one in the spring, where they learn important skills like how to interview and how to advocate for themselves.
In the fall workshop, each contestant is asked to fill out a 'tiara worksheet' with what makes them unstoppable. This is a way to help them embrace the pageant's message about the girls' disabilities not defining them.
Then, on the day of the Miss Unstoppable Pageant, the girls compete in interview, runway, talent, and evening gown portions, as well as a choreographed group dance.
Fittingly, this year's winner, Rebecca, who performed a folk song on her violin as her talent, was crowned on April 2, which is Autism Awareness Day.
"I am not defined by my disability, I am unstoppable!" Rebecca said after winning the title.
Congratulations to all competitors, and to Rebecca! From watching video clips from the pageant, it is easy to see that this event holds a lot of meaning for the girls and their families, and here's hoping the important message behind the competition empowers all kids with special needs not to let their disabilities define them.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.