SEATTLE — Beth Schubert is a registered nurse and mom - but she's also helping girls with special needs gain confidence and friendship.
Schubert and her daughter, Sami, co-direct the Miss Exceptional Pageant. They work with the Exceptional Families Network to invite Washington girls to compete in a unique pageant that caters to their special needs. The interview portion of the pageant, for instance, is optional. If a child is non-verbal or not comfortable with speaking, they can submit photos instead.
"It's a really great opportunity for kids of all abilities, we don't turn away people for lack of ability," Schubert says. "If you feel like you should participate in Miss Exceptional, we welcome you to come in."
Girls are invited to come as they are for the pageant. Schubert mentioned a time that a contestant loved gymnastics - so, she tumbled across the stage in her leotard for the outfit portion. This pageant is all about building confidence.
"Girls with disabilities are four times more likely to be bullied for their disabilities, says Sami Schubert, Beth's daughter at pageant co-chair. "And with my brother having special needs, I've seen that first hand. so I wanted to help other girls gain confidence like I've gained."
Both Sami and Beth are superstars in their own right. Beth graduated from WGU Washington after battling respiratory failure for three years.
"After my lungs healed, I decided I wasn't going to let anything stop me, and I went to WGU," Schubert says.
Despite her huge medical bills, Schubert was able to attend because WGU gave her the "WGU Loves Nurses" scholarship. This allowed her to continue working as a nurse in an environment that would help her heal after her health battle.
The Miss Exceptional Pageant is held in the fall, but once you're part of their court, so to speak, you're invited to events all year long. And even if you're not crowned queen - that's okay, too.
"Even if you don't win the big title, you still get a sash and a crown that represents them as a princess," Schubert says. "And the girls wear them proudly."
Because when it comes down to it, all of these girls are royalty in their own right.