Last Saturday (May 7) was the third annual Miss Unlimited Pageant. For those of you who don't know about it, the Miss Unlimited Pageant is currently the sole focus of the Miss Unlimited Foundation (www.missunlimited.org). The pageant participants are girls with disabilities which fulfills Miss Unlimited's goals of celebrating beauty everywhere.
It started in 2014, just a few months after Maggie passed away. I didn't know anything about it at that time. My friend Mary Casey told me about it last year and insisted I needed to contact Michelle Wynn, the founder and executive director. I did so and was tangentially involved last year as a volunteer. It was wonderful, but, to be honest, it was a bit difficult for me emotionally. I was there all day until the pageant started and then left because it was too hard.
I told Steve about it and said, "Maggie would have LOVED this." When I thought about that, I immediately got more involved. I joined the Board of Directors and have been working closely with Michelle and Scott Hu, the other director since last years pageant.
The 2016 pageant was bigger and better than last year - and last year was pretty damn good. Michelle is a teacher at St Ignatius High School (SI) and many of the SI students work on this all year long. The girls become buddies to the participants and the boys, dressed in tuxes, are the escorts for the evening. For those of you who are my age, Think "Mystery Date." Every boy is the dreamboat a girl dreams of. There is an emcee and panel of judges made of of dignitaries from San Francisco and the whole thing is very upbeat.
Because of my friends in the disabled world, I was able to encourage a couple of Maggie's friends to participate as well as other girls I know from being a part of that world. It was fantastic. Every single participant was grinning from ear to ear. Some danced, some sang, some read poetry, some did nothing but appear. My friend Gia wore her inner tube throughout the pageant and stole everyone's heart.
Every single girl was amazing and beautiful. Everyone had a great time. Everyone won.
The crowd is made up mostly of family members and friends of the participants who get to hoot and holler for their girls in a way that just doesn't happen for this population or for their parents. Everyone enjoys themselves and you see hundreds of people smiling, proud and happy of these girls that are too often overlooked in our society.
This year was not without emotion for me. I watched these girls light up and I missed Maggie with every fiber of my being. This dance was particularly difficult/wonderful because this is exactly how my sons danced with Maggie and she laughed just as hard as Ashlynn did here. (Her dance partner "Mr. Matt" works in her classroom and paired with two other contestants as well)
I cried my eyes out in the audience and then applauded as loudly as I could. I missed Maggie and I was so so happy for what I was seeing.
That was fine. Nearly every other person in the room was crying at some point and applauding as loudly as they could too.
I encourage everyone to check out Miss Unlimited and support it if you can. We are looking at ways to expand this and hope to do a pageant in other areas. A couple of things are already in the works. Jump on this bandwagon!!