TALLMADGE — A city resident will represent the state at the National Miss Amazing competition in Chicago next summer. Tallmadge High graduate Laranda Robinson, 22, will compete in the Junior Miss division. She was crowned the first Ohio Miss Amazing Junior Miss in October in Akron.
Ohio Miss Amazing is a chapter of Miss Amazing Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which “celebrates girls and women with disabilities that have seized every opportunity to grow and are living life in full bloom,” according to its website. Robinson has learning disabilities. Contestants can range in age from 8 to 99.
Although she is close to her mother, Robinson has lived with Pamela Wilkes, her care provider, in Tallmadge since she was 7. Wilkes credits Robinson’s participation this past summer with the Special Olympics in Columbus with helping the young woman come into her own. “She wasn’t active in high school, but Special Olympics made a big difference in her life,” Wilkes says. “She tried bowling, cheerleading and track and won two gold medals, and then all of a sudden, she wanted to do everything, including competing in the Ohio Miss Amazing — and won.”
Participants take part in interviews and a talent showcase, displaying their skills in a variety of ways. Robinson loves to dance. Her competition routine is choreographed to music from the movie “The Ice Princess.”
“Prior to Special Olympics, I often felt afraid and alone,” Robinson said. “Special Olympics have opened a door to a new world for me. Being involved with Special Olympics allows me to feel that I belong. I do not feel judged by my peers — I am appreciated and encouraged to do my best. I have this great platform to share the joy Special Olympics have brought to my life.”
The National Miss Amazing competition is scheduled from Aug. 3-6, 2018. People can follow and financially support Robinson at https://donate.missamazing.org/fundraiser/1203844.
In the meantime, Robinson volunteers at an elementary school in Akron. She also hopes to help at the Ronald McDonald House and to visit area nursing homes.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to give back to the community and to show people just because you have a disability does not mean you do not have a lot to offer,” Robinson said. “I would like to reach out to other people with disabilities and encourage them to get involved with Special Olympics.”
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC