What should have been a simple visit to a local pageant shop in Arkansas, on a rainy day in August of 2010, changed BJ Thorn’s family forever, and from that change the Arkansas Angels Pageant was born.
Andrea Thorn, who is quadriplegic and 11 years old at the time, was accompanying her mother-BJ, twin sister-Bailee, and younger sister-Lauren, to the store so Bailee and Lauren could try on dresses for their first beauty pageant. The store owner, Ms. Cindy, noticed Andrea exploring the store in her wheelchair, but not trying on any dresses herself. “What about her?” she asked BJ, whose first thought was “are you kidding me?” There’s no way she would be able to get Andrea into a dress; a fancy sequined one at that.
But Andrea overheard the adult’s conversation about her and wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
A short time later, Andrea wore a gorgeous teal green dress along with a tiara that Ms. Cindy placed on her head.
The grin and happiness on Andrea’s face was a special treat for the Thorns. BJ got busy snapping pictures to preserve the moment.
Then it happened.
Andrea, with her famous southern drawl, asked her Mom a life changing question, “Momma, can I do a pageant?”
The question filled BJ with anxiety. She’d never subject Andrea to a pageant; drawing stares and comments, which they were already used to. A stroke after birth left Andrea with brain damage and confined to a wheelchair. A pageant stage just wasn’t something a protective mother could do.
But Fate had other plans that day. The rain fell harder, which caused the Thorns to hang out in the store longer than planned. Ms. Cindy and BJ had a conversation about special needs children and the need for a pageant of their own.
BJ then thought, “what if?”
As soon as BJ walked through the front door at her home, she got on the phone and called everyone she knew who had special needs children, pitched the idea and asked their opinions. They loved the idea.
Before the night ended, BJ told her husband what she wanted to do, and they decided on the name: Arkansas Angels.
To view the Arkansas Angels website (now known as Angels Pageant System) and read the entire story, including options to donate...
Cindy's is proud to have been a partner with the Arkansas Angels Pageant since it's inception.
Below is the story of how it all began.