Record number competing in Krist Kindl Charity Pageant on Saturday

Special to Leader-Press 

Fifty young ladies will take to the stage on Saturday hoping to capture one of the Krist Kindl Charity Pageant crowns. 
But for Heidi Cortez, the pageant is about much more than a sparkling tiara. For Cortez, the pageant is about improving the quality of life for those affected by autism. Cortez, the reigning Ms. Five Hills, is heading up this year’s charity pageant which returned to the festival two years ago after an absence of more than a decade. All proceeds from the pageant will be used to purchase sensory playground equipment for Copperas Cove City Park.  
“I feel all children should have a place to encourage them to play,” Cortez said. 
Cortez must raise an estimated $4,000 to purchase the equipment and proceeds from the pageant will contribute only a portion of that. The Fort Hood Thrift Shop recently awarded a $1,000 grant toward the project and Cortez is applying for additional grants and has more fundraisers planned. 
“I am hoping to exceed my goal and to put the remainder of the money toward more awareness programs. I will keeping working toward my goal until the last piece fits,” Cortez said, making reference to the puzzle piece symbol of autism.
Ironically, Cortez started her pageant career on the Krist Kindl stage last year where she entered her first pageant and won the title of Ms. Krist Kindl before going on to win the title of Ms. Five Hills. Last year’s pageant benefitted mitochondrial disease and raised just under $1,600. 
With the growth of the event, the pageant has moved to the Copperas Cove Civic Center and will include food concessions and vendors offering convenient holiday shopping to contestants and parents.
The pageant, which begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, has drawn 50 contestants, the highest number in the pageant’s history, ranging in age from babies to adult ladies. All contestants receive a custom medal with the winners and runner-up selections receiving trophies. The queens will be crowned in custom rhinestone tiaras fashioned to look like Kris Kringle after whom the Cove festival with a German heritage was named. They will also receive double-satin embroidered banners. The winners will be featured on the Domino’s Pizza float in Copperas Cove’s annual Christmas parade on Saturday at 3 p.m. and also in the Killeen Christmas Parade on Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m.

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