Shining stars take to the stage Feb. 6

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Savannah Landeros of Sunnyside is one of 16 girls who competed in the first-ever Washington Shining Star Pageant last year.

— With a chance to shine and stand in the spotlight, differently-abled girls can take part in the Washington Shining Star Pageant at 3 p.m. on Feb. 6.

The pageant will be at Bethel Church, 270 N. Gap Road.

The pageant, started by Rene Martinez last year, gives girls with special needs the chance to show how special they are.

She said they get to build on their communication skills, self-confidence and develop new friendships.

Martinez started the pageant because her daughter Sofia, who is differently-abled, wanted to know why there wasn’t a pageant for girls like her.

“I decided I would start one, but it was pretty scary… I didn’t want people to think of the pageants like Toddlers and Tiaras,” she said.

Last year there were 16 participants in the pageant, including Sunnyside’s Savannah Landeros and Avelynn Antram of Mabton.

Martinez said Landeros may not be able to take part this year because of surgery, but girls from across the state have registered.

“A girl from Manson, a girl from Puyallup and a girl from Royal City are signed up,” she said.

“There are some girls from last year and some new ones,” she beamed.

Martinez said she is excited for this year’s pageant, which is open to girls in kindergarten through age 25.

The theme is pajamas, which means the girls will introduce themselves in a pair of their favorite PJ’s.

Also, those signed up are collecting pajamas to be donated to Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

“The idea came last April when Sofia had to be airlifted to Oregon’s Children’s Hospital,” Martinez said.

The family did not have time to think about clothing and her daughter didn’t have anything to wear when she was discharged.

Those attending the pageant can also donate pajamas for the cause.

The girl who collects the most pajamas will be the recipient of a Community Service Award, Martinez said.

Following introductions, the participants will don pretty dresses and answer an on-stage question for which they have prepared.

“We are also willing to accommodate non-verbal girls,” Martinez said.

“We don’t want any barriers.”

She said the girls’ hair and make-up will be done backstage by volunteers, giving parents the chance to be a part of the audience.

“They have a handicap accessible stage… they called me last year, offering their stage,” Martinez said of the church.

Registrations for the pageant will be accepted through next Monday by calling 775-741-3800.

A $fee is being accepted to cover the cost of awards and tiaras for each participant.

“We do have small scholarships available,” Martinez noted, saying she wants to make sure everyone gets a crown and there isn’t anything preventing a girl from participating.

“My hope is that paraprofessionals, physical therapists and those who know girls who are differently-abled will encourage them to participate next year,” she said.



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