West Jordan special-needs teen crowned Miss Amazing
Jun 23, 2017 10:12AM
By Natalie Conforto
Copper Hills senior Miranda Clegg was crowned Miss Amazing. (Barbara Clegg)
By Natalie Conforto [email protected]
One of the graduates from Copper Hills’ class of 2017 wore a distinguished title along with her cap and gown. West Jordan teen Miranda Clegg was crowned as the teen queen at the Miss Amazing event in March of this year.
Miss Amazing is a pageant for girls and women age 5 and up who have an IEP, IPP, 504 Plan, SSI or other proof of disability, such as a physician’s document. According the company’s mission statement, “Miss Amazing provides opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment.” There was no entry fee to participate—just five cans of donated food. Volunteers serve as hairstylists, makeup artists, and teen buddies for each contestant.
To look at her, Miranda seems just like any other high school girl. Her mother, Barbara Clegg, said that people don’t notice Miranda’s disability until they talk with her for a few minutes, because she struggles with communication.
Barbara added, “You wouldn’t be able to pick her out from a crowd, and say, ‘there’s our disabled girl.’ In fact, people doubt she’s disabled.”
Miranda scored a nine out of ten on her Apgar test at birth. She wasn’t diagnosed until age three, when she wasn’t moving or talking like other children her age, and a stranger asked Barbara what was wrong with her daughter. Resisting the initial impulse to be offended, Barbara and her husband Lance took her to Primary Children’s, where a CT scan and MRI revealed that she had Holoprosencephaly.
Miranda’s Holoprosencephaly causes atrophy in her lower limbs, so she’s had surgery on her feet and calves. In Miranda’s case, the forebrain of the embryo failed to develop into two hemispheres, so the right and left are still fused together in portions.
Despite her disability, Miranda has racked up achievements that decorated her gown on graduation day. Along with her academic letter, she earned emphasis cords in music and child development. She earned the Copper Hills Service Award by completing 200 hours of service. She also received state pins for concert choir and cheerleading.
Yes, Miranda is also a cheerleader. After several years of hard work, Miranda earned the position of a flyer—the person on top of a cheerleader stunt pyramid—for Team Passion at Forever Cheer. She was also on the Copper Hills Varsity cheer squad for three years.
“I like flying. I love representing my school and cheering on the team,” Miranda said, adding that she likes her fellow cheerleaders.
Barbara is grateful for how supportive the squad has been of her daughter. While the other cheerleaders have “chipped in to help her find her way,” the coach “wanted to challenge Miranda, and see what she could bring to the team.”
“To see the pride in her face, saying ‘I got this,’ it was so amazing!” Barbara said.
Holoprosencephaly affects Miranda cognitively as well as physically. While Miranda is able to balance on a cheer pyramid, her mother says that she will never drive because she lacks the reflexes to safely navigate through traffic. Though she performs almost at grade level with vocabulary, spelling and reading, her math skills remain at a kindergarten proficiency. Instead of a diploma, Miranda was awarded a certificate of completion from Copper Hills, which will allow her to receive continued services for people with disabilities, such as South Valley School and Aggies Elevated at USU.
Miranda used her cheerleading skills in her pom routine for the talent component at the pageant. The other judged elements were stage presence, interview, and evening wear. Miranda described her dress, “I wore a blue one. It had lots of sparklies on the top.”
Miranda was surprised to hear her name announced as the winner, or queen. “I felt inspired, like really proud of myself and happy,” Miranda said.
Miranda’s parents said the pageant has helped their daughter.
“She’s always been a very outgoing person—very friendly, very polite,” her mom said, qualifying that Miranda was always willing to answer questions about herself. “Since the pageant, we’ve seen her really blossom in striking up a conversation. Instead of it being all about her, she’s staring to realize, I can ask you questions, too.”
Because Miss Amazing is a service-oriented organization, Miranda’s duties as pageant queen are teaching her to continue to look outward. With her “sister queens,” she has been involved with service projects at Ronald McDonald House and making cards for elderly care residents.
This August, Miranda will travel to Chicago to compete in the national Miss Amazing pageant. Miranda says she is most eager that “I get to see a new city and I’m excited and happy to represent Utah and other girls like me.” Her favorite thing has been the Facebook page that has allowed the queens to get acquainted with each other before the national event.
Although there is no entry fee for the pageant, Miranda’s family still has to pay for airfare, food and lodging in Chicago. Donations for the family of four’s journey will be accepted at https://donate.missamazing.org/miranda01.
Miranda’s family consists of her parents and her six-year-old sister Megan. Barbara said that Megan has “learned to really champion Miranda, and that people with disabilities aren’t that different, and need to be treated with respect.” Miranda has taught them all to be more accepting, and to quit demanding perfection. Barbara said, “Being able to do anything is an amazing feat.”