DENVER — A group of Denver beauty queens have started an online fundraiser to help young men and women from underserved communities compete in beauty pageants.
“If you can grab those young women at a young age, you can show them that they can be classy and elegant, and they can be empowering, and they can be a force to be reckoned with,” said Arica Quinn, the current Ms. All World Beauty Elite US. “Everything that these ladies do comes out of their pocket, their wardrobe, which can be anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.”
Quinn, LaShawn Dixon, and Kimberly Barnes, who also hold titles in Colorado, launched an online fundraiser to send four young women to a national beauty pageant in Dallas, Texas, on June 23.
The three women say the fundraiser is about more than winning titles.
“I hope to reach all of the young women who don't have an opportunity to compete in pageantry, that we may be able to give them an opportunity that they've never had before or could never afford,” Dixon said.
Dixon says pageants help keep youth engaged, especially in communities where extracurricular activities are limited.
Barnes says the interpersonal skills young people can learn from being in a pageant are invaluable.
“It's also a confidence booster to do these pageants. Sometimes you go into them and you're really timid. Like I was, I was really timid. But now, I shine like the queen that I am,” Barnes said.
The three women say the Community Outreach Service Center agreed to sponsor their efforts, and they're hoping to secure even more sponsors so they can reach more young men and women well after the June pageant.
“Pageantry blossomed me into the butterfly I am today. And I tell people all the time, the beauty is not that the caterpillar can turn into the butterfly. The beauty is that the butterfly will never go back to being the caterpillar. Pageantry is a way to become that butterfly,” Quinn said.