KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It was a very big night in Knoxville for 25 girls with special needs as they took part in the first ever Miss Shining Star pageant. They competed for trophies and crowns, but went home with much more.
"I've never been in a pageant," said Charla Tallent, 9.
The professional hair stylists and make-up artists brought in were a big thrill for her.
"You get to look pretty and stuff," Tallent said.
Faith McDonald, 20, loved meeting the other girls.
"I like the pageant and I like the clothes I'm wearing and I'm really excited and I am just a little bit nervous," McDonald said.
Foremost, she remembered the advice her mother gave her.
"I will try my best," McDonald said.
The Miss Shining Star pageant, held at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church, was co-emceed by Good Morning Tennessee Weekend Anchor Hayley Harmon. The event was co-hosted by Joni and Friends Knoxville and Open Doors Tennessee, both non-profits that work with those with disabilities and their families.
"They see pageants on TV, but because of their disabilities it is really hard for them to enter a typical pageant, so this gives them an opportunity to do things that they've seen and wanted to do, but haven't had the opportunity to do," said pageant co-director Rhoni Standefer.
The Miss Shining Star pageant hopes to include even more girls next year. There is no fee to participate, but the pageant is looking for private and corporate sponsors.