The second annual Shining Star Pageant for girls with special needs is coming up in February, and the organizer wants to make sure any girl who wants to enter gets a chance.
Rene Martinez started the event last year after her daughter Sofia, who has special needs, asked why there wasn’t a pageant for girls like her.
“I said, ‘Great question. Let’s make one!’ ” Martinez said.
Last year’s pageant drew 16 girls from throughout the Yakima Valley, all of whom went home with crowns and goodie bags.
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This year, Martinez says, “If we got 25 girls, we would be overjoyed.”
The pageant, planned Feb. 6, has two parts, and this year, there’s also an opportunity for some community service. First, it’s pajama-wear, with the girls displaying their best pajamas while introducing themselves.
Then they change backstage and come back out in formal wear to answer an interview question, which Martinez will send the week prior so they can prepare. The question will likely be something like “What’s your favorite animal and why?,” she said.
We don’t want there to be barriers. We just want the girls to come out and have a great time.
Rene Martinez, pageant organizer
Participants can also collect donations of pajamas to be given to children’s hospitals. The girl who donates the most will receive the “Community Service” award; girls can collaborate with their family, church, school or other organizations to gather more donations.
“In April, Sofia was airlifted to Portland; we didn’t have time to think about clothes,” Martinez recalled. Pajamas at the hospital will help ease some of the burden for families, she said.
Last year, each girl got a crown, a trophy and a T-shirt, along with a goodie bag, thanks to a generous donor who wanted to spoil the girls, Martinez said.
She asks participants for a $25 entry fee to help pay for those prizes, though she doesn’t want money to be a barrier for anyone, so there are some scholarships available.
About 300 people turned out to cheer on the girls last year, including the student royalty from several area high schools, Martinez said. Tickets are $1, again to help cover the costs of the prizes.
Though every girl will go home with a crown, a winner is chosen from each of five age groups: Kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth, sixth through eighth, ninth through 12th and 12th to age 25.
The pageant will be at Bethel Church in Prosser, where there will be a ramp up to the stage to make it handicap-accessible, Martinez said.
“We don’t want there to be barriers,” she said. “We just want the girls to come out and have a great time.”
To register for the pageant, or to volunteer your services to help, call Martinez at 775-741-3800.