PAGEANT Miss Deaf Ohio hopeful raising funds

The contestant needs to raise $1,000 to participate.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Not all pageants are about beauty and bathing suits.
The Miss Deaf Ohio Pageant is an ability pageant held biannually in conjunction with the Ohio Association for the Deaf. This year, the Community Center for the Deaf in Youngstown has chosen Stephanie Kesterke of Champion to represent the area by showing off her leadership abilities, intellect, talent, personality, poise and self-confidence.
If Kesterke wants to compete in the state competition Aug. 12-15 in Columbus, she will need to raise money for pageant clothes, food and a hotel for a week.
Each contestant is required to raise her own funds.
How to help
The Community Center for the Deaf is taking donations to help Kesterke reach the $1,000 goal.
Donations can be sent to Rebecca Somnitz, c/o Community Center for the Deaf, 6614 Southern Blvd., Youngstown, Ohio 44512.
For more information about donations, call Steven Leland, Miss Deaf Ohio Pageant state director, at (330) 726-8391.
Those who donate will be recognized as an official Miss Deaf Youngstown Sponsorship Team member.
Pageant's history
The Miss Deaf Ohio Pageant has been around for 30 years.
According to Rebecca Somnitz at the Community Center for the Deaf, Youngstown has participated since 1981, and three state winners have come from the area, including the current Miss Deaf Ohio, Jennifer Yazbek.
Somnitz added that it is the only pageant of its kind for deaf girls.
The contestant
Kesterke is a student at Gallaudet University, the liberal arts college for the deaf in Washington, D.C.
She was selected to be a cheerleader her first semester at school, fulfilling a dream of hers. She received the "Most Spirit" award for the 2004-05 year.
Kesterke is involved in acting, and she was the first deaf person at Champion High School to participate in a school play. She also participated in the passion play for three years at her church, Highway Tabernacle in Austintown.
Her platform presentation at the pageant will be "Communication," which deals with her experiences with the deaf and the hearing.
If Kesterke is crowned Miss Deaf Ohio, she will travel to New Orleans to compete in the Miss Deaf America Pageant during the summer of 2006.

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