New Miss Gold Dust Royalty was crowned on Friday, July 25, and the spectator-filled room was brimming with sparkling tiaras, brightly colored ribbons and flowing gowns.
The pageant took place from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Gold Bar Elementary School gym. Pageant Co-Directors Patty and Katelyn Baller were humbled by both the number of participants and the size of the audience. This was their second year directing the pageant which featured 26 contestants.
The gym was bursting at the seams.
“When I walked the judges in I couldn’t believe we were standing room only,” said Patty. “Both Katelyn and I still can’t believe that we doubled our girls this year.”
The girls competed in events like talent, formal wear, introduction, interview and themed-wear in which the girls could either develop a gold-theme outfit or construct something entirely out of recycled materials.
Since taking over the pageant last year, the Ballers have shifted the emphasis to being a community service-based competition rather than just a beauty pageant. Gold Dust girls participate in numerous fundraising events throughout the year and also volunteer their time doing outreach work in the Sky Valley community.
Patty stated that the support they’ve gotten from the community has been invaluable. They are already planning on moving the pageant over to Sultan High School next year to accommodate its growth.
“We have been asked about adding a prince and or king division next year,” said Patty. “We are thinking about it.”
Demonstrating their willingness to try new things, this year the Ballers included a new age division known as Baby Miss. The Baby Miss division was added by Patty after she received a request from a young Sultan mom named Chris Caniparoli.
Caniparoli’s 10-month-old baby girl Briella was born with three severe heart defects.
Once Patty heard Briella’s story, she happily agreed to add in the new age division, which gave girls from six months to two years the opportunity to participate. Patty asked Caniparoli to locate two other contestants, and after that, Baby Miss was an official category.
Briella was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome; an extremely rare condition in which the right side of the heart is underdeveloped and malformed. She also has Heterotaxy Syndrome as well as Dextrocardia Syndrome, which means that her heart is on the right side of her chest instead of the left. So far, Briella’s life has not been that of a typical 10-month-old baby girl.
“She had one emergency, major, open-heart surgery at four months old,” said Chris. “After that she developed two clots in her heart, and had a major stroke at five months old.”
Chris said that Briella’s recovery has been amazing.
“She’s just a ball of life,” said Chris. “Nothing holds her down.”
Briella has had the Glenn operation which is a special procedure to help improve the blood flow to her heart. She will eventually need to undergo the Fontan procedure, a surgical process which is the second phase of the repairs required to address Briella’s heart defects. The Glenn and the Fontan are typically done as a two-staged procedure.
Eventually, the little girl will need a new heart altogether.
“She’ll need a new heart between her late teens and early thirties,” said Chris. “Sometime in that span.”
Not only was Briella crowned Baby Miss Gold Dust, but she also won for being most photogenic and having the prettiest smile. She was additionally crowned for her themed-wear dress, which was made from pink camouflage duct tape.
“She’s a little miracle,” said Chris. “She’s amazing.”
In addition to the Queen titles in seven different age divisions, honors were presented for Miss Gold Dust Ambassador, Cover Model, Overall Talent, People’s Choice, Miss Congeniality and Queen of Queens.
The Queen of Queens title is a special honor given to the reigning Miss Gold Dust Queen who has made the most appearances and completed the most community service during her year as queen. Last year’s Miss Teen Gold Dust, Lin’z Lucey, was crowned Queen of Queens, which means that she will work with the new Miss Gold Dust royalty throughout the upcoming year.
“Lin’z has shown me throughout the year what a great role model and mentor she is,” said Baller. “If I need something done she is the first offering to do it. I’m so excited to spend another year with her and watch her blossom and grow even more.”
Lucey was not expecting to be crowned Queen of Queens and is looking forward to working with the newly crowned girls.
“I definitely thought it was going to be someone else so I was very excited,” said Lucey. “I’m really excited to mentor the other girls.”
Lucey’s hair is cropped short due to her participation at the Monroe Relay for Life event which took place from May 31 to June 1 of this year. When the Gold Dust girls decided to donate their hair to the American Cancer Society, Lucey decided to shave her head.
The cause is near and dear to Lucey’s heart.
“My grandma actually died of ovarian cancer and when she had to take chemo she lost all her hair and felt really bad about it,” said Lucey. “It was kind of just a thing to do for her.”
All in all, Gold Dust Royalty donated 42 inches of hair at the event.
The Miss Gold Dust Ambassador is an honor reserved for the contestant who brings in the highest number of donated food items and refers the most girls to participate in the pageant. This title was given to 9-year-old Liberty Roeder from Sultan. In addition to being crowned Ambassador, Roeder also won the talent competition for her CPR demonstration which she performed to the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive.”
During her performance, Roeder demonstrated hands-only CPR, but only after stating how important it is to call 911 in the event of any emergency. She used her phone’s speaker capabilities and made what sounded like an authentic call to a 911 operator.
“She called her uncle who is a 911 dispatcher,” explained her father, Shane Roeder, who is a Snohomish County District 26 fire fighter.
Liberty stated that she got a little bit of help in regards to using the Bee Gees song for her performance.
“My parents helped me figure that out,” said Liberty, who collected 373 food items and 98 bags of clothing for the pageant’s food and clothing drives. She won the Junior Miss talent title along with Jylnn Zimmerman who did a martial arts demonstration.
Katelyn and Patty stated that they were grateful to all those who participated in the pageant, including the judges, who had to make some difficult, but necessary, decisions. Not every girl can be Miss Gold Dust.
“I wish I could have all the girls as queens,” said Patty. “That is why we have so many areas they can win crowns and medals… We make sure every girl leaves with a crown and trophy.”
They also were grateful to BreAnna Stewart, who served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.
Here is a complete list of the 2014 Gold Dust Royalty:
Baby Miss; Briella Caniparoli, Tiny Miss; Josie Johnson, Little Miss; Emma Mach, Junior Miss; Danielle Johnson, PreTeen Miss; Kiana Kendall, Teen Miss; Summer Stecher, Miss; Andria Desroche, Ambassador; Liberty Roeder, Cover Model; Andria Desroche, Overall Talent; Elena Amador, People’s Choice; Jlynn Zimmerman, Miss Congeniality; Alicia Haney, Queen of Queens; Lin’z Lucey.
Baller is in need of a few volunteers to help her continue growing and improving the pageant. She is currently seeking a seamstress as well as someone skilled at embroidery work. The pageant is also looking for an empty barn or covered area to store their brand new Sky Valley parade float.
Anyone who can help is urged to contact Patty Baller at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Miss Gold Dust please visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Miss-Gold-Dust-Pageant/516285918453215.