We are so honored that Chasity and Trey McRae chose to donate the proceeds from their first annual Alabama Shining Star pageant to CPF’s Student Scholarship Fund. Thank you so much to all those who donated and participated, and especially to the McRaes for all of their hard work! You can also read more about the pageant here. Below is “The Story Behind the Donation” from Chasity McRae:
My daughter, AnnaLee, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate on January 25, 2010. When she was 2 months old someone asked me to put her in a pageant at the school where I teach. I at first said no because we had already had “the looks” and ”the comments” from people. The more I thought about it the worse I felt about denying my child any opportunity that she is faced with. I was not ashamed of her by any means, but people just don’t understand cleft or any birth defect or disorder for that matter. I didn’t want people to make fun of her!
AnnaLee, truly a shining star!
I decided I wanted to be an example to other parents with a special needs child and show the community that being different is okay and the child shouldn’t be shunned, so we entered her in the pageant. From then on I encouraged people affiliated with the school to have a category for just special needs girls and boys. After my request was ignored time after time, my husband and I prayed about it and decided to create a non-profit pageant just for those with special needs of all ages entitled “Alabama Shining Star”. We of course chose for the proceeds to go to the Cleft Palate Foundation in honor of AnnaLee. After doing some research online, I could not find any special needs pageants in Alabama! This floored me because all they want is what society sees as a “normal” life with “normal” activities.
We went right to work getting donations and support from our community. Our local newspaper also featured our story and AnnaLee’s picture on its front page! We held a silent auction with the items businesses donated and sold “I Support Special Needs” t-shirts to raise money. Numerous businesses and individuals sent monetary donations as well. A local spa donated free hair and make-up for the contestants. We ended up with 35 contestants (male and female ranging in ages from 1 to 56), all of which received a crown and felt like a queen or a king for a day, and raised $3100. We exceeded all of our goals for the first year and plan to make this an annual event with more money raised and more contestants each year. It was a true blessing to see the faces of all the contestants and how happy this event made them, all while helping other cleft kids and raising awareness! Everything came together so easy and the pageant went so smoothly, we just know that God had His hand in it. We are very proud and honored to now give you this check because we know firsthand the good that will come of its use!