Roslyn Hurley had the idea to hold a beauty pageant for persons with disabilities for almost two years before it came to fruition.
Wanting the pageant to be as professional as any other, but not knowing who to go to, Hurley wondered for some time “who would see the dream that I have?”
It was while chatting with one of her friends, Ms. Marshall, who expressed confidence in Hurley, that she finally decided to take the next step.
“She told me, ‘I know you and you can do it’.” After that advice, she felt she had no choice but to go after it on her own, especially after the first few persons she shared the idea with had no interest.
“So I formed a small committee, I put all my thoughts on the table and we went ahead.”
That committee comprised of her sister Joycelyn ‘Sue’ Hurley, Erlinda Brathwaite, Lasonta Corbin and Allison Saunders.
Hurley recalled the many nights she and her sister searched the internet for information and guidance on to how to pull a pageant together.
The next step was approaching the National Disabilities Unit, The Hilton Hotel and DB Productions, who all readily came on board.
They then had to not only look for participants, but for persons who would train them for the event. That is where several persons came together to spearhead various aspects of the practice sessions.
This year Arlette Williams is taking care of coaching the entrants, Heather Grazette is the sign-language interpreter, Orlando Chase is in charge of dance and Allison Norville-Forde is the singing coach.
Halcyon Carrington, who is hearing impaired, is assisting with interpreting and dance. She has also designed the costumes for the opening dance act.
Meanwhile, the husband and wife team of Korena and Alex Carrington have been responsible for managing the Facebook page and photographing the group.
“There are so many other volunteers such as the Lions Club, who are out there working,’ Hurley stressed.
Exactly what will the competition be based on though?
“The show is based on Question & Answer, and talent,” Hurley revealed.
“The first show was a great success. I was blown away when I saw so many people the evening of the show,” she recalled.
Reflecting on last year’s inaugural event, Hurley said while it was somewhat difficult to get participants, it was much easier this year. She again sent out to schools and various institutions and the response was good.
Not only from them, but from their parents.
“The parents are so fussy,” Hurley said, adding that parental support is critical.
This year’s show will see nine participants – one less than last year – who will be vying for the titles of King and Queen of the Pageant.
Since last September, participants have been attending practice thrice weekly at the NUPW Headquarters, with a break in November. That was increased too nightly leading up to the pageant.
“I really must thank the NUPW. They gave me everything I wanted, including electricity and security at night,” Hurley expressed.
Like any other event, there were some challenges. “Even when things are not going how I would want, when I see how far they have come, it makes me feel better. I have seen a fantastic change. Some of them were so shy at the beginning. They were some who used to speak and you could hardly hear them; now you can hear what they are saying,” she pointed out.
Asked about the hearing impaired, Hurley explained that “speakers have been put on the floor so they can hear the beat of the music. They chose the song they wanted to dance to, they practiced and they know the song by heart.”
Hurley said the participants are all “enthusiastic” and as for the males, Hurley said she does not believe “anybody in Barbados will dress like my fellows tomorrow. They are going to look like Light & Power – hot,” she said. For that, Hurley thanked shopper Mark Greene.
She also wanted to thank Joan Woodroffe for her assistance in approaching Barbados Light & Power, which offered to sponsor all four males.
As for the other sponsors, Hurley, the Special Envoy for Persons with Disabilities, had high praise all of them.
The Shine Like A Diamond pageant comes off tomorrow at the Hilton Resort at 6:30 p.m. Funds raised are to assist with classes for members of the disabled community. (SD)