Deep down, every little girl has that fantasy of donning a pretty dress, walking the stage and getting crowned Miss Something. At the Miss Amazing pageant, every girl really does get that chance—when each and every contestant is crowned at its end.
But this pageant isn't like all the others you've seen on TV. It's not about the dress or who wore it best in the swimsuit round, or, say, crafting a genius answer as to why Americans can't seem to locate the U.S. on a map. Miss Amazing is just for girls with physical and mental disabilities, and it celebrates that spot of uniqueness we all have in us.
Founded by Jordan Somer seven years ago in her hometown—when she was just 13 years old—the pageant has now gone national. And to say it's pretty special is putting it mildly—it's absolutely heartwarming.
"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," Somer told the Today show.
“We have participants who have Down Syndrome, we have participants who have autism, high-functioning, low-functioning," she continued. "We have participants that don't use words to talk."
Each contestant gets her own chance to shine, all in an effort to boost confidence and that all-important self-esteem. So every portion of the contest is designed to do just that. First up, there's a super-fun introduction ceremony (which, as evidenced by the clip below, can spotlight some real sass). Then there's evening wear modeling and, of course, the best part of all: the talent portion, which showcases everything from martial arts skills to singing chops.
One such contestant this year was 11-year-old Gabby Arthurs, who was born with a rare genetic disorder. As her proud parents looked on, she graced the stage with a head full of pretty blonde curls and a multicolored tutu.
Meanwhile, mom and dad couldn't help but get a little emotional. As Gabby's dad, Ched, told Today, “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.” (Ours, too.)
For fellow contestant Abby Wiegand, Miss Amazing does one powerful thing you can't give a price tag: It makes her disability invisible. “I like it because it puts myself out there and I'm not just this girl in the wheelchair. I'm me," she said.
And to think this all started from an idea one 13-year-old dreamed up ... now that's pretty amazing.