No one knew pageant competition could be a form of speech and physical therapy
Alexandra Schmitt is proof that girls and young women with special needs and challenges can achieve their goals. The 20-year-old New Brighton resident is Ms. You Can Do It—2008. The honors have meant a busy schedule for Schmitt as she has par-ticipated in the St. Anthony, New Brighton and Mounds View parades. At the 2008 Minnesota State Fair she participated in a parade and helped cut and serve Minnesota’s birthday cake celebrating 150 years of statehood. Schmitt attended the Abilities Expo in September and planned to attend the United Cerebral Palsy Celebrity Waiter dinner in October. On Dec. 8th, Schmitt will be a guest on “Disabilities Viewpoint” with Mark Hughes on CTV.
Schmitt is the fifth young woman to hold the title, which she won at a com-petition in Illinois this summer. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two. Cerebral palsy, also referred to as CP, is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. Even though the odds were against Sch-mitt, her determined spirit refused to give up on life. That same spirit continues to push her through seemingly impossible tasks like college math, learning to drive a car, and walking in heels onstage and in a formal gown.
During the pageant she was filmed by a documentary crew and told them it didn’t matter if the judges gave her the crown or not—she had already accomplished just about everything she wasn’t supposed to. She wasn’t supposed to live, let alone breathe on her own. She wasn’t supposed to walk, let alone dance. In short, Alex is Ms. You Can Do It—with or without the crown and the national title.
Schmitt learned of the pageant through a friend and entered because she wanted to challenge herself. She also wanted the opportunity to be in an environment that embraced and supported her special needs. In the Ms. You Can Do It Pageant, girls com-pete by age group in private interviews, casual wear, evening gown and on-stage question. Photogenic and congeniality awards are also given. She walked taller, spoke more clearly and improved her balance while preparing for the pageant. Who knew that preparing for a pageant was such good speech and physical therapy?
As a result, Schmitt is now a strong advocate for the lasting benefits to all who participate in the Ms. You Can Do It Pageant. She invites all girls and young women with special needs and challenges to join in. The pageant was founded by Abbey Curran, Iowa’s 2008 Miss USA titleholder. Cur-ran has been challenged by cerebral palsy since birth. She is working to get national recognition for the pageant, which is for young women ages 5 to 25 with special needs and challenges. Curran was recently featured in People magazine and on Ellen, Ellen deGeneres’ talk show.