Rene and I are “walking buddies.” When we find the time in our schedules, we walk the streets of our
small town of Prosser and attempt to solve the problems of the world. Our walks are sources of great
encouragement to me because Rene is a beautiful woman who is caring, compassionate, and positive. I have come to feed off of her positivity and be inspired by her on a daily basis. I wish we got the
opportunity to walk more frequently but the schedules and demands of our kids often make our
cherished walks few and far between. One particular walk I will never forget…. It was in the summer of 2013 that Rene explained her idea of bringing the Shining Star pageant to fruition. Sofia had gotten the “pageant bug” and Rene desired to host an event closer to home for Sofia and other girls. She had just begun to formulate her vision for the event and was working out some basic logistics of the first pageant for February of 2014. One of the reasons why I think Rene and I get along so well is we have several things in common- one of them being that we both have a strong desire to volunteer for things which often result in us becoming overcommitted and stressed out. Trying to be a supportive friend who attempts to encourage and offer “wise” advice to my dear friend, I gave some really BAD advice. I told my dear friend Rene, “you are crazy.” I then proceeded to encourage her to NOT add this pageant to her already busy plate of obligations, activities, health challenges, and stress. I was completely confident that Rene would successfully pull off this crazy goal of hers, but I was more worried that this event would be over-the-top stressful for my friend.
Looking back three years later on that particular walk, I’m really glad my dear friend decided NOT to heed my advice and to proceed with her vision of the pageant. Witnessing the last 2 pageants have
been amazing and I was quickly convinced that the advice I gave was not wise. Rene and Sofia are in their element when it comes to hosting this pageant and inviting participants to “shine.” The positivity and encouragement that is an integral part of this event overflows among the participants, their families, the audience, the volunteers, and the community. Yes, there is stress associated with the planning of such an event, but this pageant is a true blessing to so many--participants, families, and volunteers alike. I’m truly blessed to be a part of this event, to have a friend who disregarded my “wisdom”, and for the opportunity to help shine the spotlight on some amazing girls in the Shining Star Pageant. Through this experience, I have also gained some new wisdom- I will never, ever again underestimate the determination of my dear friend and walking buddy, Rene Martinez and her enormous heart. --Angela Skeen
On Wednesday, I woke up BEFORE the crack of dawn and traveled to Kennewick to appear on Wake Up Northwest, our local morning news program. I was going to be interviewed about our pageant. I'm not the kind to volunteer for this; when I was a kid I HATED hearing my voice on a recording. But, Rene is my friend; I love her, I love Sofia, and I love what this pageant can do.
In the middle of the interview the morning anchor asked me something along the lines of "So, tell my why you do what you do." To be clear, this was NOT a question I'd spied on her iPad during the commercial break. I took a beat, tried to check my emotions into that dignified corner of the face I like to show the public, and attempted to answer. I think I ended up giving a pretty generic answer about what it does for my heart to be a part of this. Now, I can reflect on the depth of that question. Why DO I do what I do?
For as pink-a-licious and princess-ey as I like to be, I am NOT the pageant type. I am, however, the love type. Once upon a time, when Rene asked me to help her bring Sofia's dream to reality I said yes. Reluctantly...but I DID say yes. I helped pick out tiara designs and shirt colors; I even wrote a coronation script for our MC to read. And sure enough, my love for my friend turned me into a pageant Fairy Godmother.
And people came. Parents registered their daughters. Volunteers offered to do hair and make-up. Other royalty said they'd help crown the girls. Old friends gladly handed out cookies and water. People with great big hearts came out in full force. For these girls. That's one reason why I do it. For these girls. I suspect that is true for many of our volunteers.
But, if I'm honest, there's a little selfishness to it, too. I get to hang out with some of the best volunteers around. I get to witness unbridled joy from the faces of our participants. I get to marvel at the great problem to have of TOO MANY pajamas donated to be delivered in one trip. I get to hear the gratitude of families who get to have a shining day to sit back and just enjoy their daughter. And, if no one is looking, every once-in-a-while, I get to try on a tiara or two.