'Miss 'You Can Do It' pageant lets girls with disabilities know they're all beautiful
NEW YORK – We have all heard the expression "You can do it.’ Abbey Curran, former Miss Iowa USA, took that can-do attitude to heart when she made history in 2008 by competing in Miss USA as the first contestant with a physical disability.
Curran, who has cerebral palsy, decided to take pageants a step further, and created the Miss You Can Do It pageant for girls who have disabilities that range from spina bifida and cerebral palsy to Down syndrome. HBO chronicled the pageant in a documentary of the same name.
“It has just been a crazy journey," Curran told FOX411's In the Zone. "In 2004, I started the pageant. We were pretty small the first few years. It was hard to find contestants. At the same time, was competing in pageants myself and then in 2008 I made history when I won Miss Iowa USA and competed in the Miss USA pageant. Then after that it kind of picked up. It was in People Magazine then Ron here saw a little picture of our first pageant."
It was that little picture that caused filmmaker Ron Davis to reach out to Curran.
“The one little picture told it all; five, six little girls on stage beaming with joy and happiness," he said. "The hair on my arms went up, but I did want to make sure it was not 'Toddlers and Tiaras' in wheelchairs."
The Miss You Can Do It pageant could not be more different from a glitzy, over-the-top 'Toddlers and Tiaras' pageant. Although the contestants don casual and formal wear, and grace the stage in hair and make up with an interview portion, the message is everyone is beautiful.
“The pageant is about inspiring girls, motivating them and giving them courage to go out and conquer the world, so this isn’t let’s glue on your fake eyelashes," Curran said. "But at the same time if that makes you feel comfortable and that’s what makes you confident, then go ahead and do it, but really you don’t need it because you already are beautiful."
It is Curran’s hope that her beauty queens will be treated equally one day.
“I really hope that our pageant gets well known," she said, "And people can respect our Miss You Can Do It queen like they would meeting Miss USA or Miss America.”
"Miss You Can Do It" airs Monday on HBO.