SAN MARCOS (KGTV) - A San Marcos family is sharing a new opportunity for parents raising children with special needs.
Seven-year-old Randi Drew is one of 20 contestants getting ready to make their debut in the first-ever Miss CA Extraordinaire Pageant.
"I saw a special needs pageant, and I was like, what?! Because Randi doesn't get to experience many things," said her mom Lizzy Drew.
Randi was just 13 months old when she suffered a seizure in the middle of the night.
After three months in the hospital, doctors diagnosed her with a rare form of Epilepsy. The little girl often requires oxygen when she has a seizure. Randi also has Autism.
"It was tragic, but you know, we're here now, and she's come a long way, and we've come a long way," Drew said.
Like a lot of little girls, Randi loves to paint her nails, sing, dance, and swim. But her mom says it's hard to find activities outside the home.
"It's isolating in that we don't get to do a lot, but we don't connect with a lot of families," Drew said. "It's different raising a child with special needs."
That's why the family is so grateful to Bree Goelze. Goelze is a former beauty queen who was most recently crowned Ms. U.S. in 2022.
The San Marcos mom of four boys is also a speech pathology assistant who works with children who have speech difficulties.
"I just looked at the population I was working with and how can I further make a difference in these children's lives, other than just through speech services," said Goelze, who was also crowned Miss Teen Escondido in 2000.
Goelze says competing in pageants is about much more than wearing a crown.
"Not only did I gain confidence, but I gained friendships," said Goelze.
She's hoping families with special needs will form life-long friendships through the pageant, which includes a mentorship program and several weekend outings.
"I thought that I would maybe have five kiddos, and we'd get dressed up in pretty dresses," Goelze said. "That's really all it consisted of at the time."
She quickly had twenty contestants sign up and a waiting list for several more. The ages range from as young as four to 21.
Randi loves to sing and dance, but she hasn't decided which talent she'll show off during the pageant.
"It means the world to actually just stand up there and just be "normal," Drew said. "I hate saying that word. What is normal anyway?"
Goelze has partnered with several businesses but is still looking for sponsorships and donations to pull off what she hopes will become an annual event.
The pageant will be held on July 22 at the Grand Ritz Theatre in Escondido.
More information is available at missextraordinaire.com.