Children with special needs take center stage at sweetheart page - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Children with special needs take center stage at sweetheart pageant


Love was in the air Saturday morning at the Mr. and Miss Sweetheart Pageant.

"They're all here, and they're no different from anybody else," said Brienna Rhodes, Pageant Mom.

The competition was the fourth one hosted by I Am Beautiful Pageants, specifically for children, teens and adults with special needs.

"They get on stage, they wave to their parents, they love to shine and they smile and some of them dance around," said Bonnie Williams, Pageant Director

This is nine-year-old Brena's fourth pageant her mom says since starting these pageants her confidence has grown.

"It gives her the ability to do something that she's not just there," said Rhodes.

Marty McGinn is hoping the stage will have a similar effect on her daughter Lucy who has down syndrome.

McGinn says the pageant gives her an opportunity to celebrate her daughter and her bright personality.

"She goes to PE and they make her play with balls she likes dancing and the pretty outfits so this was a natural transition," said McGinn.

21 contestants took the stage in their Sunday best various categories and vied for tittles like best smile, most photogenic and best personality but at the end of the day, they were all winners.

"These kids, they go up on the stage and just shine and they are amazing, they love it," said Williams.

And their time in the limelight gives all the participants an opportunity to stay active and step out of their comfort zone.

"She just loves to participate because there's not much kids like her can do," said Sylvia Sneed, Pageant Mom.

Once the pageant was over, the stage was filled with awards and smiles... a moment that one pageant mom says is a reminder that we are all the same.

"They can teach us more than we can possibly teach them," said Shawndra Daniels, Pageant Mom.

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