r By Deborah Goodman
Ashlyn Jackman, a sophomore at Maple Mountain High School, competed at the National Miss Amazing pageant in Chicago in early August.
After fundraisers from Cowboy Donuts, Chik Fil A, Panda Express, and Wiggy Wash, as well as private donations, Ashlyn and her family made the trip.
Competing with thirty other young women in the junior teen category, Ashlyn participated in interviews, a talent show and an onstage presentation. She also experienced dance and pajama parties, a movie night and a gala in which she received a Gold Service Award. She was also awarded a talent medal for a performance with her sister, Brooklyn.
But Ashlyn’s mother, Heidi, says the onstage evening wear portion was her favorite, even though Ashlyn very nearly missed it when their subway was delayed mid-trip after some sightseeing they’d done as a family. ”We had to run from the station to the hotel and then…run to hair and makeup.” It was a group effort from the entire family, with various members scrambling to help her with food, dress and earrings, but they managed to make it on time.
Heidi recalls: “Her older brother, Camden…escorted her onto the stage. Her older sister, Brooklyn, volunteered as a buddy and helped her backstage. Out in the audience, her younger sister, Madilyn, was cheering so loudly for her. It was amazing to see Ashlyn’s siblings support her!”
Ashlyn feels great about her performance, saying she “rocked” the interview. She no longer feels self-conscious on stage, but instead played up her personality for the audience and judges.
Heidi says, “This experience has taught her that she can do anything and that will continue to help her in the future as she works towards her goals.”
One of her goals includes competing in the pageant again in two years. But for the rest of her reign as Utah’s Miss Amazing Junior Teen Queen, she will participate in monthly service activities and public appearances.
Heidi loves how confident this has made her daughter. “This pageant focuses on the abilities of each participant rather than their disabilities. Individuals with disabilities are like each of us. They have likes, dislikes, [as well as] the need to be loved, accepted and included.
Ashlyn has a bright future ahead of her. She is on the cheer squad at Maple Mountain this year and will attend the Homecoming dance. After graduating from high school, she hopes to teach preschool or kindergarten.