ST. LOUIS, MO — We are gearing up for a showcase of hope. The Butterfly Dreams Pageant is coming up. This Special Event builds confidence, friendships, and pride in a safe and nurturing environment. Once on stage, the butterfly is ready to soar.
Gowns and tuxedos represent the bling and the glamour. But parents praise everything about the Butterfly Dreams organization. Parents like Stefanie Maucher find that it provides opportunities for “differently-abled” individuals with significant intellectual and or developmental delays. “We are constantly in the community doing parades, raising awareness of our individuals with special abilities. They have done a phenomenal job of getting our kids integrated into the community”, says Maucher.
Maucher's daughter Carli has crowned Pre-Teen Queen three years ago. It’s been fun for Carli. “I did crafts, make stuff and have butterfly teas”, Carli says.
19-year-old Andrew Aramowicz is the reigning Jr Gents King. It keeps him busy. “We dance on the stage and we walk in parades we escort ladies as well”, Andrew says. He’s impressed his dad Clarence Aramowicz. “We`re very proud of him for being able to do this all on his own and impress the judges enough to be the king”, says Clarence Aramowicz
Founder Syndi Sills says the program is designed to help individuals communicate their passions to others. “We give them a chance to expand skills like making friends, learning how to talk in public learning how to communicate their passions even if they can`t speak with their mouth”, says Sills.
They speak with their eyes, their smiles, and their body language. Sills understands “I grew up with a brother who had Down Syndrome. He was the light of my life. And I lost him in a tragic accident in 2009. It left an incredible emptiness in me,” Sills says.
That void began to shrink after sills created Butterfly Dreams. The year-round program culminates with the annual pageant. Everyone leaves wearing a crown and there's no first or second runner-up.
“We say your next princess is or your next prince. When they`re judged by our judges they are judged by the ability of their disability. Not against each other,” Sills says.
The stage is set for this year's Butterfly Dreams Pageant.
If you'd like to participate, volunteer or come and watch the Illinois pageant is Oct. 6th in Fairview Heights and the Missouri Pageant is Nov. 10th is at DeSmet High School.