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Princess Pageant gives young girls who use wheelchairs ‘a time to shine’

by Maren Jensen

The Miss Wheelchair Utah Princess Pageant is giving young girls a time to shine.

“It is the most wonderful experience ever for little girls who use wheelchairs,” said Meg Johnson, founder and director of the pageant.

Johnson, who was paralyzed in 2004, founded the pageant over 10 years ago. She says when she started using a wheelchair, she found that sports was mostly what she could find to participate in.

She eventually learned about the Miss Wheelchair America pageant and made arrangements to compete.

Johnson then started a Miss Wheelchair Utah pageant for adult women, but eventually teens and young girls wanted to participate; so the Princess Pageant was born.

“I feel like pretty is something that everybody can feel,” Johnson said.

Each participant meets their princess partner at a “tea party” the day before the event.

Then at the pageant they get up on stage, do a presentation where they can showcase a talent, and get a sash and crown.

All the participants and their partners do a princess dance at the end.

“It’s one of the highlights of our year,” said Lisa DeGraff, whose daughter Macey has participated for several years.

Macey has had “The Red Fairy” as her princess for the last three or four years, and this year planned to do a slideshow for her presentation.

“We just beam with pride seeing her up there and being surrounded by love,” said DeGraff.

For Johnson, celebrating these girls through the pageant has become her purpose.

“I feel like if I was paralyzed so that I could pretty to this side of walking to a bunch of girls to help them feel pretty and to help them get on stage and to help them dance with princesses–then it was worth it,” she said.

A lot of work from volunteers goes into putting on the pageant every year; the event also relies on donations of supplies and money.

Mountain America Credit Union donated $500 to help the Princess Pageant continue to give these young girls the royal treatment.

If you want to volunteer or donate, visit the Princess Pageant website.