This year's Miss Amazing pageant, April 2 at Eagan High School, featured two girls from Rochester among its top finishers.
Taylor Thompson is this year's Minnesota Junior Teen Queen. Ten-year-old Rose Miller, daughter of David and Alysa Miller, was named Pre-Teen Queen. The pageant is for girls and women with disabilities. Thompson and Miller next go on to Nationals, June 30 to July 4 in Chicago, where they'll compete with girls from 30 states.
We'll feature Thompson soon. Miller, who's going into fifth grade, has Prader-Willi Syndrome. She's competed in pageants before.
"Last year I was in a beauty pageant, and I was a princess," Rose said, "But this is my first time being a queen. Being a queen is much better because I get to go to Chicago. My dad gets to walk me down as a prince — he had to ask me if he could walk me, but I said yes."
Alysa said, "We went to the pageant last year after we were emailed by her special education teacher in the Byron School District, who said she thought Rose would be amazing at this. We looked into it, and the cost for getting into the Minnesota pageant is donating some canned foods, so the only expense was the gas to get up to the Cities, and we thought it would be a great experience for her."
And so it was.
"It's just lots of fun," Rose said. "During my beauty pageant, I got my hair and makeup done (professionally) and got to run around and have lots of fun with all my friends."
Miss Amazing contests are paired up with helpers — Miss Teen winners from counties around the state — and performed some of their talents for the judges and audience.
"Then we get to go on stage and they call out who is the princesses and who is the queen," Rose said. "They called me out for being the queen, probably because I did my karate for them."
Rose, who has been doing karate for a few years, broke boards with her elbow.
Her dad, David, said, "The talent portion isn't judged, because some special needs girls are higher functioning than others, so it's not fair to judge."
Alysa added, "The whole point of the Miss Amazing pageant is to celebrate the abilities of those with disabilities, celebrating what they can do, and the only portions that are judged are the interview, the introduction on stage … and then the evening walk."
Rose will have a booth at Rochesterfest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, and she'll get some stage time. On stage, she plans to talk about the upcoming pageant and about having Prader-Willi Syndrome.
Rose was 76 days old when she was diagnosed. Low muscle tone was the main key factor for her, and she was having trouble feeding.
"We had to get high-flow nipples for bottles so it could just pour into her mouth rather than suck it down," David said. "And then you go to the other spectrum where she is always hungry. It's challenging, but not as challenging as some things. We are blessed that she was diagnosed from what she was and not something more severe."
"I didn't have muscle tone," Rose said, "but people (physical and occupational therapists and doctors) helped me to build up my strength and muscle tone, and now i can do stuff and can climb on stuff and have been in gymnastics and have had swim lessons and now do karate. And I have to drink a lot of water."
Her parents said they try to do anything to keep her active and keep her weight down, because even though she is on a pretty strict diet, her metabolism isn't as fast as most children.
Rose sought her own sponsors for the pageant, and she practiced her talent and interviews in preparation for it.
Since April 2, her family has been collecting sponsorships to help with the costs of the Chicago pageant. The family will hold a fundraiser bake sale for her on Sunday, Father's Day, at her grandparents' church, the United Methodist Church in Eyota.
She showed off her crown, trophy and sash.
"I was surprised that day because I couldn't figure out who was gonna be queen," she said. "Everyone already had their crowns."
Alysa said: "She looked at her helper on stage because she hadn't been crowned yet and everyone else was already crowned and she said, 'Well, wait, who is going to be queen.' We were already crying by that point, because everyone else already got crowned as princesses."