Children with special needs take center stage at sweetheart pageant

CENTRAL, TX (KTRE) - Lovewas in the air Saturday morning at the Mr. and Miss Sweetheart Pageant.

"They'reall here, and they're no different from anybody else," said BriennaRhodes, Pageant Mom.

Thecompetition was the fourth one hosted by I Am Beautiful Pageants, specificallyfor children, teens and adults with special needs.

"Theyget on stage, they wave to their parents, they love to shine and they smile andsome of them dance around," said Bonnie Williams, Pageant Director

Thisis nine-year-old Brena's fourth pageant her mom says since starting thesepageants her confidence has grown.

"Itgives her the ability to do something that she's not just there," saidRhodes.

MartyMcGinn is hoping the stage will have a similar effect on her daughter Lucy whohas down syndrome.

McGinnsays the pageant gives her an opportunity to celebrate her daughter and herbright personality.

"Shegoes to PE and they make her play with balls she likes dancing and the prettyoutfits so this was a natural transition," said McGinn.

21contestants took the stage in their Sunday best various categories and vied fortittles like best smile, most photogenic and best personality but at the end ofthe day, they were all winners.

"Thesekids, they go up on the stage and just shine and they are amazing, they loveit," said Williams.

Andtheir time in the limelight gives all the participants an opportunity to stayactive and step out of their comfort zone.

"Shejust loves to participate because there's not much kids like her can do," said SylviaSneed, Pageant Mom.

Oncethe pageant was over, the stage was filled with awards and smiles... a momentthat one pageant mom says is a reminder that we are all the same.

"Theycan teach us more than we can possibly teach them," said Shawndra Daniels,Pageant Mom.

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