Annual Krist Kindl Charity Pageant raises funds, autism awareness

Cove  Leader-Press

The Copperas Cove Five Hills Royalty continued to make a positive impact on the city with their 3rd annual Krist Kindl Markt Charity Pageant at the Civic Center on Saturday.
50 participants competed in the charity pageant which raised money which will be used to help purchase sensory equipment for Copperas Cove City Park. 
The winners of Saturday’s pageant were featured on the Domino’s Pizza float in Cove’s annual Christmas parade later that day. They will also be featured in Killeen’s parade on Saturday, December 9.
The event was organized by Heidi Cortez, Ms. Five Hills. Cortez said that she has family members that have autism and liked the idea of raising awareness as she feels many don’t have a full understanding of what autism is.
“I think that with autism there is information about it, but there isn’t enough,” said Hayleigh Walker, Young Miss Five Hills, who helped her friend with running the pageant.
Cortez said that there isn’t a lot of sensory equipment in the city and that she thought adding some to the City Park would make a great new addition. She said she felt the new equipment will help autistic children feel more included and encourage them to play. The new equipment will stimulate the senses of touch, sight, and sound.
“When she told me what the cause was, I was like ‘Ok, I can do that.’” said Danielle Jerdon who participated in the Ms. Krist Kindle category of the pageant. “I don’t feel that very many people understand [autism]. It’s a good thing to raise awareness for…I think that it’s amazing that there are so many people here.”
The pageant featured categories for all ages starting with Baby Miss. Other categories included Tiny Miss, Wee Little Miss, Little Miss, Junior Miss, Pre-Teen Miss, Ms (a category for women ages 19 and older), and Krist Kindl Angel. The Angel category is for young ladies with exceptional needs. Contestants were judged on beauty, dress, modeling, and projection. 
“I was very shocked. I did not expect it. I entered the pageant based off of what it was for,” said Ashley Coombs, the winner of Ms. Krist Kindl. “I feel really strongly about her cause and her platform…My son is on the spectrum, so it really hits home for me. I think it’s something that’s really important. I know that it’s out there these days and has a lot more awareness, but I think that having something that’s accessible for the kids in the park makes it even better.”
As of the conclusion of the pageant, the Five Hills Royalty have collected $3,950 towards purchasing the sensory equipment. $1,000 of that was donated by the Fort Hood Thrift Shop.
“It is very overwhelming…Just to see friends, family, and the community come out to support something that means so much to me,” said Cortez. “I’d like to say thanks to the Five Hills Pageant for supporting my platform and to the contestants for having the courage to stand up there and smile and be judged.”

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