DAVENPORT – It’s a pageant, yes, and for young girls – but it’s not necessarily intended to be a highly competitive one.
“This is a pageant not focused on beauty and talent,” said Wanda Curtis. “It is encouraging all girls to participate — and have fun.”
It started last year, and shows every sign of growing – even more than doubling – its participation rate this year.
“We hope so,” Curtis said. “We do hope they will continue this every year, and grow it as time goes on. Last year we had 10 participants, and this year I know they already have 20 girls signed up.”
Curtis is the property manager for the Sunshine Foundation’s Dream Village in Loughman, which over the past 20 years has welcomed more than 20,000 special children whose number one dream is to visit the Central Florida theme parks.
The Sunshine Foundation’s sole purpose is to answer the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children, ages three to 18, whose families can’t fulfill their requests due to the financial strain that the child’s illness causes.
Now the Dream Village will be having its second Miss Sunshine Foundation Pageant in September. The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. at Ridgeview Plaza/Beyond Fitnezz, located at 45629 U.S. 27 in Davenport.
It’s an event designed to help support the Dream Village’s work, said Marcus Santiago, one of the volunteer organizers of this event.
“Any funds raised will benefit the Sunshine Foundation Dream Village,” Santiago said.
The entry fee is $50, and the age categories are open to girls ages 4-6, 7-9, 10-13, 14-17, and 18 and up.
Although Dream Village will be the beneficiary of this event, it was organized entirely by the charitable agency’s supporters, said Rich Mergo, the Dream Village’s director of development.
“It’s our volunteer chapter that is doing that,” he said.
The first Miss Sunshine Foundation Pageant was launched last year.
“It went really well last year,” Curtis said. “The girls had a really good time with it.”
She hopes the same is true this year as well.
“This will be the second pageant that they’re putting together, and it’s to raise awareness of what we do, and to help get the girls involved in the community,” Curtis said. “It really helps the girls with their self-esteem to be a part of this.”
And for the young “queens” who participate, their involvement with the Dream Village goes well beyond the pageant itself, Curtis noted.
“The queens are chosen, and they come out to our events and help us throughout the year,” she said. “The girls are encouraged to be involved in our organization and help out with awareness of us. It’s all about developing the girls and expecting them to be involved in the community and to give to others.”
For more details on this event, log on to www.sunshinefoundation.org or call 863-424-4188 or 800-457-1976.
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