We all deserve to be celebrated - that's the beautiful message coming from the Hanover Abilities Pageant, set for next week.
It's an event meant to lift spirits and raise money for a group of people often missed by society.
Pageants come with glitz and glam, and the Miss Hanover Abilities Pageant is no different. From makeup to crowns and sashes, this is like any other competition. What's different here, is the young women competing.
"I think it's important to have this opportunity to show the community what they can do,” said Amy Gregory, President of the Hanover Community Support Services. “Oftentimes, they don't know what they're capable of. So I think it's important that they see them on stage, dancing and singing and walking on stage in gowns and speaking. I think it's a very positive experience for them."
The participants are all young women with intellectual disabilities - like Sarah, last year's winner.
"I had heard about it, and it sounded like an interesting opportunity, this pageant,” said Sarah Chenault, the 2017 winner of Miss Hanover Abilities. “Because I had never been in a pageant. I was kind of reluctant. I was convinced to do it, so I did it."
The pageant focuses on what the women can do.
"It's about their empowerment,” said Gregory. “It's about building self confidence and self esteem. It's about building relationships, and it's about highlighting them for our community."
Those who run the event, say the payoff goes far beyond the stage.
"I was able to do other activities and events like parades,” said Sarah. “Speaking at a job fair about hiring people with intellectual disabilities, and that's a big help."
All things that showed the community what Sarah - and others with disabilities - can do and contribute.
The pageant is March 10 at Atlee High School in Mechanicsville. Tickets are $10, and the event continues to benefit programs for the young women competing.
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