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Miss Amazing is amazing for Minot

The 2023 ND Miss Amazing queens, from left to right, are Danielle Hartson, ND Miss Amazing Sr. Miss; Jayden Rust, ND Miss Amazing Jr. Miss; Jurnee Rust, ND Miss Amazing Teen; Ashley Hanson, ND Miss Amazing Miss; Madison DeCoteau, ND Miss Amazing Jr. Teen; and Aushata Land, ND Miss Amazing Mentor.

Every year the Miss Amazing competition provides girls and women with disabilities across North Dakota a chance to build self-esteem and be a part of friendships that continue throughout the year.

Each season the annual weekend event grows. Miss Amazing organizers have a goal of 25 participants in 2024. This year they had 16 participants. The winning participants each season head every July to the National Summit, which is held in a different state every year. This July the six queens go to Chicago.

Samantha Redding, director of the North Dakota chapter of Miss Amazing, said North Dakota is one of the few states that offers a weekend event, with all age divisions, and that includes workshops, guest speakers, a musical guest, the current Miss North Dakota, community service events, rehearsals, team building activities, community engagement activities and the crowning pageant event.

“We have many girls traveling from outside of Minot, so we like to give them a really worthwhile experience, and we can’t squeeze all these fun things into a day so we like to make it a weekend event,” Redding said.

The girls are tasked with three main core skill areas on which the judges evaluate them — the interview, the introduction and the passion presentations.

The talents and stage performances by the girls vary from year to year. Annually there have been strong singers, dancers, piano players, poem readers and slideshow presenters. In 2023, a couple of new participants to Miss Amazing who were sisters, one with a vision impairment, performed an archery exhibit on stage, finding a target and hitting it. Redding said another participant with limited vision had displayed her technology in speed typing, after which her finished product was then read aloud.

“I visit some of the other states’ events and it is always really fun to watch because some things that we take for granted are these ladies’ pride and joy, and it’s really exciting to see how proud they are when they get to share it,” Redding said.

The community service project at this year’s event was tie blankets.

“Often times people with disabilities tend to be on the receiving end of acts of kindness and services from the community around them, so we wanted to give our ladies the opportunity to serve those around them in the community they live in. This year we made tie blankets for Minot’s Trinity neonatal intensive care unit, as well as Sanford and St. A’s in Bismarck. The blankets were made at our event by all of the participants, staff and volunteers throughout the weekend and were delivered after the event. It’s really important for the girls to understand that it’s more than being a part of an organization. It is about giving back to other organizations as well,” said Redding.

This year participants came from Belcourt, Jamestown, Fargo, Lincoln, Grand Forks and Minot.

“We are pretty spread out and looking to get more participants from the western side of the state. As Miss Amazing North Dakota grows, the connections we have already made have been with the eastern portion of the state, so we just need to make those connections with schools and area community services and disability services in the western portion of the state,” Redding said.

Coordinating the weekend event also includes a pajama party on the Saturday night of the event weekend. They spend time at the host hotel, engaging in activities, watching a movie, eating pizza and dessert in their pajamas and getting the most out of their time together.

Redding said the volunteers look on the event as an adventure, making friendships and adding to the quality of the event.

“We usually take about one and a half the number of participants and that’s our goal for volunteers, plus our board has eight people on it. This year we looked at about 30 volunteers and our board of eight,” Redding said. “We serve one meal a day for participants and volunteers and both of our meals were donated by local sponsor. This year we had Planet Pizza Saturday evening and Sunday was sponsored by Homesteaders.”

Minot State University has been a big sponsor, not only in providing the event space, Ann Nicole Hall, but members of the MSU football team are the “right hand men” who escort the queens on stage.

“This year’s group of guys were really special and made the girls feel very special on stage by hyping them up, and the girls of course, love it,” Redding said. In the past there have been participants and volunteers who were MSU students as well.

There are opportunities for girls who want to shop in town or need financial help in getting their outfits for the stage. This year the “Queens” were invited to shop at a discounted price at Marry Me in Minot to find their dresses for the national conference in July.

Redding said the girls are asked if they have an outfit that makes them feel beautiful and confident, and most often they do. There are no requirements regarding their stage outfits, only that they feel confident walking on stage, she said.

The six girls who crowned this year were Danielle Hartson, ND Miss Amazing Sr. Miss; Jayden Rust, ND Miss Amazing Jr. Miss; Jurnee Rust, ND Miss Amazing Teen; Ashley Hanson, ND Miss Amazing Miss; Madison DeCoteau, ND Miss Amazing Jr. Teen; and Aushata Land, ND Miss Amazing Mentor.

Until the end of July, the six queens will be preparing for the National Summit. Redding said they use this time to develop further their interview skills, introductions and presentations. The ladies prepare their outfits for the entire trip and are doing a pizza fundraiser to make the experience as low cost as possible for their families’ travel expenses.

Throughout the next few months, the ladies want to gain donation dollars and sponsorships. People can see them in the State Parade in Minot in July, as well as other community events.

Throughout the year, Miss Amazing participants have monthly meets, called virtual mini events. Each month has a different theme or activity or guest speaker.

“We also try and meet in person when we have a group activity. Wherever we have a larger group of girls, we all try to go and support them in group activities,” Redding said. “A lot of really great friendships have been formed, and the girls do really look forward to the activity planned.”

Registration is open for the 2024 Miss Amazing event. There is no a hard deadline, but earlier registration can guarantee a T-shirt. Registration should be complete one month before the yearly state event. There is no age limit. Miss Amazing organizers just ask that participants be older than 5.

“We want everyone who wants to and is able to participate,” Redding said.

For more information, to register or learn about more ways to help out, visit missamazing.org or email nd@missamazing.org or call 720-4173.

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