Beauty pageants

Miss Amazing pageant puts girls with disabilities first

Sep. 7, 2013 at 12:12 PM ET

Video: At the first-ever national beauty pageant in Omaha, Nebraska, contestants with disabilities gathered from around the country to perform, compete and touch people's hearts.

At one very special pageant, it isn’t about who has the best voice or the prettiest dress. It is, however, still about the tiara.          

“Every girl at the Miss Amazing pageant receives a crown because every girl to an extent in her own way is Miss Amazing, just by participating in the event and really pushing her limits,” said Jordan Somer, the founder of the Miss Amazing pageant, which is just for girls with physical and mental disabilities.

“We have participants who have Downs Syndrome, we have participants who have autism, high-functioning, low-functioning. We have participants that don't use words to talk,” Somer told TODAY.

Somer created the Miss Amazing pageant when she was just 13 years old, and now, seven years later, pageants are held across the country. Events, which include an introduction ceremony, evening wear and talents like martial arts and singing, are designed to help build confidence and self-esteem. 

Gabby Arthurs, 11, was born with a rare genetic disorder, and is just one of the girls who participated in the pageant. She took to the stage in a multicolored tutu.

While Arthurs' mom held back tears, her father Ched Arthurs said, “To see how much happiness it brings her, to see her meeting all these new friends, just to see that smile on her face, it just melts my heart.”

Somer said that she hopes that after a Miss Amazing pageant, every contestant can go back to everyday life and remember that in that one moment, they were accepted -- and that there’s no reason that shouldn’t always be the case.

“I like it because it puts myself out there and I'm not just this girl in the wheelchair,” said contestant Abby Wiegand. “I'm me.”

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