Fearless & Fierce: Bringing Together Children of All Abilities
By The Dani Keys Organization
The Dani Keys Organization, formerly known as Community Keys 4 Needs Inc., is a non-profit organization with the vision and mission to provide enrichment resources and supportive services for children with special needs as well as their parents, in addition to promoting optimal health and wellness.
As a single mother of three children with special needs of differing disabilities, company founder, Danielle Vaughn, saw a need for a resource.
Since 2016, Community Keys 4 Needs Inc. has offered many programs for both individuals with special needs and their families, as well as to the community. During the manifestation, the idea for the Community Keys 4 Needs Inc. 2018 Inclusive Community Service Based Pageant was born. A place where children of all ages could be a part of a fun, low-stress event to bridge the gap between what is seen and what should be seen in the community.
The very first pageant took place in April and offered individuals of all abilities the chance to compete for a title and crown. Dedicated to improving the self-image and self-esteem of the participants, the pageant gave participants the opportunity to get to know their peers with special needs in a welcoming, warm setting.
Participants of the pageant had three titles in which to compete: Open, Fearless, and Fierce. The Open titles were dedicated to anyone residing in Fresno County, of any ability, any gender, and meeting the age criteria for their division. The Fearless titles were dedicated to any participant who meet the definition of disability under the government laws and acts defining a disability (Disability Discrimination Act 1995). The Fierce titles were dedicated to those who would like to serve their community and spread inclusion awareness, but might not be able to attend the actual pageant.
A growing community of support came along with this wonderful event. The sixteen participating contestants lite up the room with their smiles; the happiness was contagious! It was immediately clear that this would become an annual event.
At just 4 years of age, Lilleigh took home the title of Miss Tiny Clovis. Seeing how Lilleigh’s experience during the pageant improved her self-confidence, her mother is enrolling her in other pageants to share her light and laughter. “It is kids like Lilleigh that make the time and effort of putting together this event so worth it,” says founder Danielle Vaughn.
Lilleigh was also join by Meena, Chloe, and Tessa. Chloe was another first-time pageant participant who dazzled the crowed with her love of dance and cheer. Meena loved participating in the pageant, and showed the audience that she was full of spunk and personality! Tessa felt right at home under the spotlight and shone just as bright.
Lea, Olivia and Norah reigned as the Junior Misses. Lea was all about her smile and loved sharing it with the crowd. Olivia walked the runway without fear or fail as the perfect ambassador. Norah was steady and strong throughout the event and could be seen helping other contestants and sharing her experience from past events, which led her to take home the crown.
Stephanie, our Junior Miss Teen, stole the show in her gorgeous dress, along with her service dog who was sported a matching blue tutu. Though Stephanie had a quiet sense of self, she spoke volumes with her eyes, smile, and her large family right by her side. The crowd cheered when she hit the stage with her adorable little dog tucked neatly under her arm.
When speaking about Miss Teen Dezaraye, founder Danielle openly admits that she is a very proud mom. As a teen with special needs, she has faced many battles. In many ways, she was the inspiration for this event. At the event, Dezaraye embraced new friends and spread her bravery across the stage.
Kayla took home the crown for Miss Fresno. Kayla lives with a variety of other young adults with special needs and is described as caring and compassionate. Her smile lite up the room and her positive attitude created a sense of calm and openness. Her favorite part of the event was the dancing and music.
The young men of the event were not to be forgotten. Junior Mister Crayton made everyone laugh by showcasing his Grease inspired gear and slicked back hair. His energetic attitude made him totally irresistible. Junior Teen Mister Noah melted hearts at the event. His sheepish smile and quiet demeanor paired well with his charismatic attitude. Mister Drew was a suave teen with a debonair smile. He enjoys being a youth leader at church and spends his days vlogging in the garage. Mister Austin was a classic jokester. He embraces his life to the fullest and uses every moment to make others.
For more information about how to participate in the event, in any capacity, please contact Danielle Vaughn at (559) 612-2027. Follow the Dani Keys Organization on Facebook or Instagram @danikeysorganization or at danikeys.org. Check out the 2018 information and more pictures of the contestants at keys4needspageant.org
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