Newcomerstown Middle School will be the venue for the third annual "You Can Do Anything! Pageant."
The event will be held May 6 starting at 6 p.m. The event was started two years ago through the joint efforts of Heather Berndt, Kirsti Buss, Tricia Buss, Richelle Lefler, Linda Russell, and Cindy Staggs.
Lefler presented the idea to the group after watching a documentary on HBO about a similar pageant started by Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa 2008. At the conclusion of the documentary, Lefler's daughter, Chelsea, entered the room and inquired if she could do that some day. This caused Lefler to question why it couldn't be possible and to do some research. Ms. Curran shared that there was no pageant in Ohio but that individuals were welcome to travel to other places to participate. Understanding that such travel is not always feasible for every family, the team got together and began to plan.
The purpose of the pageant is to celebrate the unique beauty and quality of character displayed by individuals who happen to have cognitive and/or physical disabilities. A variety of contestants participated in last year's event with the help of local volunteers who served in the capacities of concession stand workers, stage managers, judges, hair and make-up stylists, and escorts. Local queens and a king served as special guests, crowning the contestants and presenting them with flowers. Money donated through admission and the concession stand to the event has been divided between numerous organizations that enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities. Some of these groups have included the Tuscarawas County Challenger League, Guernsey County Challenger League, the Children's Cranial Facial Association, SUDS (Stand Up for Down Syndrome), and Pets with Disabilities.
This year's event will follow a similar format as detailed above with the contestants participating in a parade, fashion show, and coronation ceremony. Participants can also perform an individual talent for the audience. In the past, contestants have shared songs, dances, piano pieces, basketball tricks, comedy acts, and guitar solos.
Registration is currently open for individuals of all ages with cognitive or physical disabilities. Also, if there are any pageant, school, or fair queens or kings (past or present) who would like to be special guests, contact Richelle Lefler. Questions can also be directed her way; she can be reached at 740-498-4151 (ext. 13129) before 8 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m.