By Mike Bush
St. Charles, MO (KSDK) - Even if they cost a few bucks, sometimes tickets are priceless.
At the Scheidegger Center at Lindenwood University we're just minutes away from show time and the anticipation is building backstage.
"Are you excited," one contestant was asked.
"Yes," she said emphatically.
The curtain is about to come up on the first ever Miss Amazing Missouri Pageant, which is an opportunity to let the spotlight shine on the beauty of girls and women with disabilities.
"We have girls who have autism, who have Down syndrome who are verbal, non-verbal, who are outgoing. It's just a wide range," explained Pageant Director Ellie Lorenzen.
The 21-year-old Lorenzen is just a junior at Lindenwood, but she organized the entire event after being a volunteer with the Miss Amazing pageant in her home state of Nebraska.
"I'm so passionate about this organization," she said. "I think the girls here in Missouri should have the opportunity to feel beautiful, confident and to just have the greatest day of their life."
The day began with hair and makeup, services donated thanks to Lorenzen's hard work. She raised the money, recruited volunteers and was hoping for 15 to 20 contestants in this first year. But word spread quickly.
"I became a professional Facebook stalker, I guess," she laughed.
Pretty soon, more than 40 participants had signed up from ages 5 to 56.
Every contestant, like 13-year-old Lily Crockett is paired with a volunteer buddy. In this case, 14-year-old Charlee Bisch who embraced the role.
"Just mentoring the girl throughout the day and making sure she has the best day of her life," said Bisch.
Actually, it was tough to tell who was having the better time, the contestants or the volunteers.
"I have had the best day," said 20-year-old Madison Burke. "All these girls are so sweet and encouraging and precious."
Many of the volunteers have pageant experience of their own but beauty pageants, as they're often called, have plenty of critics. Even some moms had raised eyebrows.
"Well I am a convert because these young women are the most volunteer oriented women I have ever seen," said parent Mary Crockett. "They use their abilities and their beauty to help these girls."
Even if the power had gone out, there was enough energy in the theater to light up the stage.
The show began with a celebration of every contestant. Later, there were interviews, an evening gown competition and even a talent showcase that included everything from hula hooping to piano playing.
"It is just their dream come true," said Crockett.
Missouri is one of just a few states to hold a Miss Amazing pageant but it's growing every year and organizers hope to one day soon take it national.
"I hope when people hear Miss Amazing it's a household name like the Special Olympics," explained Lorenzen.
At the end of the show, every contestant in the pageant received a crown because everyone one of them was a winner. Even before the night was over, parents knew what it all meant.
"It will mean I wish I had worn waterproof mascara this morning. That's what it will mean," said Crockett.
The first ever Miss Amazing Missouri. Taking those with special needs out of the shadows and into the spotlight and showing that in the end beauty is in the heart of the beholder.
For more information on the Miss Amazing pageant: http://www.missamazingpageant.com