By Janee Law
Recently crowned 2017 Miss Long Island Teen Taylor Yaeger had the honor of crowning participants in the 5th annual pageant hosted by Miss Exceptional Long Island, an organization that promotes self-confidence for people with developmental disabilities.
The organization is in line with Yaeger’s work, which has seen the 18-year-old Dix Hills resident establish a platform of autism awareness. This was the first time Yaeger participated in this event and she said watching the reaction of the girls receiving their crowns was an amazing experience.
“I like this pageant because a lot of times people focus on the disabilities of people and people with special needs,” Yaeger, a recent graduate of Half Hollow Hills High School East, said. “This pageant highlighted the abilities that these people had, and it was really [moving].”
Yaeger said the pageant, which was hosted at the Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale on Aug. 21, included a talent portion, where some contestants sang along to songs, and a gown portion. Each of the participants in the event received a crown, a Miss Exceptional sash and a bouquet of flowers.
Yaeger, along with “sister queen” Ashley Edwards, who is the 2017 Miss Long Island, crowned 12 participants ranging in age from 6-66.
Miss Exceptional is a nonprofit organization that was started by Nikki Silva in 2012. The organization goals include empowering individuals with developmental disabilities by giving them the opportunity to shine in the community. Miss Exceptional advocates for the importance of self-confidence and self-value, while cultivating communication skills.
Yaeger is now preparing for the Miss New York Teen pageant, which is slated for January 2017. She’ll be participating in a variety of walk fundraisers, including The 2016 Long Island Heart Walk, the Autism Speaks Long Island Walk and the Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, each are scheduled to be held over the next few months