I Am Beautiful Pageants hosting Christmas pageant for children with special needs

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Candice Burns watches as herfour-year-old Preslee enjoys a day in the park with friends she made whileparticipating in a special needs beauty pageant.

"It's a great way to show themthey can be social and be on stage and be just like everyone else," saidCandice Burns, pageant mom.

Can you tell me about your dress, whatcolor is it? "Pink, and I had a flower bow and I wore a crown and a tiara,"said Preslee Burns, pageant contestant.

About 25 children participated in the first "IAm Beautiful Pageant this past summer. Director Bonnie Williams says herdaughter is involved in pageants but after seeing a special needs child watchfrom the audience she wanted to create a pageant that put those children in thespotlight.

"There's not many activities herein the community for special needs kids and I think this is a great one to add,"said Williams.

Pageant mom Brienna Rhodes washesitant about entering her daughter into the pageant.

Eight-year-old Brenna has cerebralpalsy but Rhodes says when Brenna stepped on stage she knew she made the rightdecision.

"When the lights hit her eyes shewas like wow she just smiled and strutted her stuff more than I thought shewould," said Brianna Rhodes, pageant mom."

With the holiday season beginning,Williams has organized a second pageant with a Christmas theme. She sayssponsors are vital so everyone can participate.

"With the community's support weneed to get funding so it can be a no fee event," said Williams.

Pageant moms say the "I Am Beautiful Pageant"is a welcoming place that is judgment free, and when their children step onstage they are accepted for who they are.

"Just their naturally beauty thatshines through no matter what special needs that they have, they are littlepeople too and they're beautiful inside and out," said Burns.

The pageant will be Saturday,December 1st at the Central High School Cafeteria. The deadline to sign up isthis Friday.

For more information visit the pageant's Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/iAmBeautifulPageants?fref=ts

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