Thursday, June 3, 2010

It is not every girl who can say that she has won a pageant and then traveled from Iowa to Texas to crown her successor in a grand ceremony, been filmed as part of an upcoming HBO documentary, spoken at elementary schools about her life  and acted as grand marshal in a Band Day parade. But even fewer young girls can say that their experiences have led them to spearhead their own pageant as a way to make others feel as confident and special as she has since the day she and her mother filled out the entry form for that pageant.  

Nine-year-old Daleney Teske of Mount Carmel is just such a girl. She, her mother Dayna, her father Dave, her brother Daric and her sister Dakota along with family and friends are busy putting together plans for the first Dreams Made True pageant, scheduled to be held July 24, at Central Christian Church in Carroll.

But what makes this pageant, and the girl for whom it was named, stand apart from the rest is that this is the first Iowa pageant that will focus on enhancing the lives of girls with special needs.

Daleney had experienced just such an event herself when she won the title of Little Miss You Can Do It at Kewanee, Ill., in 2008. Having suffered brain hemorrhaging in the area of motor control before birth, which resulted in a quadriplegic form of cerebral palsy was not a hindrance for Daleney when reaching for her dreams of winning that first pageant.

Changes to that pageant, however, have limited access to others, and Daleney and her family want to make sure that Iowa girls will have the same chance she was given.

“The Illinois one that she (Daleney) won is now only for Illinois girls,” said Dayna. “You have to be a resident, so that is why we wanted to do this.”

Determined to develop a local pageant, Daleney and her family went immediately to work, and the first order of business was to come up with some ideas for pageant names.

“We were kind of playing with dreams, and we liked the dreams idea, but what could we do?” said Dayna. “Of course, dreams come true, but that is already on so many different things. Then I thought of Dreams Made True. It is not quite the same as everybody else. It’s a little bit different, and there is a reason for it.”

The reason, of course, is Daleney.

“It is my initials,” she chimes in. “My middle name is Marie.”

With the name selected and properly registered for a trademark and a date in mind, the Teskes began researching sites.

After learning the prices that were charged for rental of some of the larger locales, a neighbor suggested they look into Central Christian Church. With the wide-open spaces, the large size of the building and handicap accessibility, it was a good choice. Then, when hearing the price, it became the perfect choice for the upstart pageant.

“They donated the church for free, no charge at all,” said an amazed Dayna. “They said they would love to host it there.”

This type of giving is something that Teske says seems to come naturally to the people of this area.

“Donations have been coming in, and I don’t think in this area that is going to be a problem,” Dayna explained. “People want to help, and services are incredible. So many people have called asking what they can do to help.”

That includes sponsorship by Dexter Apache Holdings, which owns Carroll Coolers, where Dave is a national sales manager; donations of tuxedos from Wilkie Clothiers for the young men who will escort the contestants; local beauticians who have offered to do their hair; Arbonne International hair care and cosmetics company, which is providing the makeup and the makeup artists for the girls; as well as several volunteers who have offered to be personal buddies to help them through all steps of the pageant.

And though there is no shortage of help being offered, there is always a need for more.

The Teskes have submitted an application for a grant through the Pepsi Refresh project. The project posts submitted “good” ideas online and asks voters to select which idea should be funded as well as selecting whether it should receive $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 or $250,000.

Dreams Made True Inc., however, cannot rely solely on the hope that it will be awarded some money, so they have established different levels of sponsorship for local businesses and individuals interested in participating.

The more that the Teskes can raise for the project, the more there will be available for the girls who participate.

“We thought we could provide some scholarship money for the girls or savings bonds, something like that,” said Dayna.

She also said that she and Daleney have hopes that the pageant will be a stepping stone for the Iowa winner to enter the nationals. Extra funds would help families defray the expense of national competition.

In addition to showcasing the girls’ natural abilities and providing lots of pampering along the way, the pageant is also a way for the families to learn from each other.

“Mom had the idea to put different technologies on the form so that people could share,” said Daleney.

The ability and time for families to spend learning what others are doing for treatments and/or therapies is perhaps one of the most valuable things the Teskes want to offer, especially since it was just such a situation that led to a new technology for Daleney. Her parents were able to receive help from a company called Bioness through NOPS (Nebraska Orthotics and Prosthetics Services) in Lincoln, Neb. It has helped outfit Daleney with a system that sends impulses to her muscles and improves her ability to walk in her special walker.

The Teskes are sure that they would not have learned about the technology so quickly if it had not been for the Little Miss You Can Do It pageant and the relationship that Daleney made with the first runner-up, Margaux, who used the equipment.

“Margaux wore things like that around her neck in 2008,” Dayna said pointing to the electronic transmitters around Daleney’s neck. “We asked her parents what it was, and they filled us in and gave us some names of places to contact. We found a place for Daleney, and she qualified for the same treatment. It has been helping her tremendously to lift her toes when she is walking. It has been incredible.”

As for Daleney, she is looking forward to making more friendships, like the ones she made when she competed in 2008.

And according to her, even though the three groups of contestants, ages 5 to 25, will be talking to and performing in front of judges in the first-ever Dreams Made True pageant, she will be looking forward to a lack of judgment.

“I get some weird stares, and when I am walking around, sometimes when I walk by the little kids ask, ‘Why does she have that?’ and sometimes they ask in front me. The most fun about the pageant will be not being judged by other people.

Emcee for the pageant will be Gary Kroger of “Saturday Night Live.” Lindee Link will sing her hit song “Fairytale,” and a parlor magician will entertain the contestants and the audience throughout the day.

To learn more about registering a contestant for the pageant, to find out more about attending, or to learn how you can assist Dreams Made True, log on to www.dreams-made-true.org, or contact Daleney or Dayna at dreamsmadetrueinc@yahoo.com.