Miss Inspiration Defies Gravity!

On March 27, adult women with disabilities came from all corners of Utah County, each destined to soar beyond their wildest dreams! 11 members of the Turn Community Services program competed for the title of “Miss Inspiration” at the SCERA Center for the Arts in Orem. This year’s theme for the 2024 Miss Inspiration Pageant was “Defying Gravity,” with the hope of inspiring others to rise above, overcome obstacles, and face fears. Everything about the Pageant that night was inspiring and on point, from the life stories and dreams of the contestants, to the stunning performances that matched the theme.

The Pageant had the audience simultaneously weeping and laughing all night! Mindy Smoot Robbins set the emotional tone for the evening with a perfect and powerful vocal performance of “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. She also delivered a beautiful message of facing down her own doubts and doing hard things as necessary components to a growth mindset. 

The 11 contestants accompanied Smoot on stage with an innovative “broom dance” that was created and choreographed by artist and dancer Maddalena Willis. Miss Utah, Sarah Sun, who was also co-emcee for the night, performed an exceptional and soaring Rachmaninoff piano composition that left the audience aghast! Local musician and storyteller Sam Payne rocked the house with his jazzy and swinging version of “Spaceman” that had audience members dancing and the contestants bouncing inflated astronauts on a parachute on the stage.

The Miss Inspiration Pageant celebrates the dreams and lives of local women with disabilities. These extraordinary women face significant life challenges, but their stories of overcoming limitations and living their lives, inspire and uplift those around them. This year’s Pageant featured elegant and courageous women with a variety of abilities and life histories, and gave them the opportunity to take the stage in a classy and fun competition. The Inspiration Royalty will serve their community for the next two years. The new 2024 Miss Inspiration Royalty members are:

• Miss Inspiration:  Nina Alomia
• 1st Attendant:Marissa Tomlinson
• 2nd Attendant:  Sarah Doran
• 3rd Attendant:  Tonya Blackham
• 4th Attendant:  Judy Grace

The contestants’ lives are changed just by participating in the Pageant. Pageant preparation is a time of reflection and self-assessment as the contestants ponder their likes and their dreams, and they are reminded of the ways that they serve and inspire others. Their confidence and self-image are enhanced, and their circle of friendships grows. There’s no doubt that contestants will hold this experience close to their hearts, as it was a night of being recognized for being an inspiration and making the most of their unique life circumstances. These ladies have lived lives with challenges and circumstances that most of us cannot comprehend. 

The Inspiration royalties partner with cities, civic organizations, and other local royalties to celebrate life in Utah and promote the image of persons with disabilities as capable and contributing neighbors and citizens. They will be found throughout their two-year reign riding in parades, participating in service projects, ribbon cuttings, fundraisers, and other community events where they are recognized and respected by citizens, mayors, city councils, and business leaders.

TURN Community Services (www.turndreams.org) was founded by parents in 1973 to create alternatives to institutions for their children and other family members with disabilities. In 50 years, TURN has grown to be the largest non-profit provider of disability services in Utah, and currently serves over 770 individuals in 21 Utah counties. TURN’s services include a full range of residential supports, day programs, Art Centers, employment services, counseling, summer camps, and family support. 

Next year, it’s the men’s turn! Plans have already begun for the Mr. Inspiration Pageant in March, 2025. Stay informed by following us at facebook.com/TURNDreams, and facebook.com/MissInspiration, and on the web at www.turndreams.org.

For more information, contact Dave Hennessey, TURN CEO/Executive Director, 801-343-3900, or davehennessey@turndreams.org.

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