Coates to participate in Miss Mass. Pageant
By Matt LaBarre, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – As she prepares once again to participate in the 2013 Miss Massachusetts Pageant at Worcester's Hanover Theatre June 28-29, Caitie Coates knows from past experience the competition will be a challenge. But for this young Shrewsbury woman, working hard is nothing new. It has something she has done her whole life, overcoming the adversity of learning disabilities, including dyslexia and short- and long- term memory retrieval, to achieve her goals.
Coates was named Miss Shrewsbury in 2009, Miss South Coast in 2011 and then Miss Bay State just a few weeks ago. The Miss Massachusetts Pageant is the official preliminary to the national Miss America Pageant.
These competitions are not the beauty pageants of old; rather they are ones that honor academics as well. That is a significant factor, Coates said.
“First, the scholarships were important to furthering my education,” she said. “The program empowers young women to continue their education while developing other valuable skills.”
“Being a part of this organization also provides us with many opportunities to help community-based organizations as well as promoting those causes and concerns special to us, such as helping young people with learning disabilities,” she added.
Coates earned her associate's degree in art with a concentration in dance from Dean College in Franklin and graduated this spring with honors from Worcester State University with a B.A. in arts and a minor in communications.
“On occasion, I'sl read 10 pages of a book and have trouble remembering what I just read,” Coates said of the challenges of living with a learning disability. “But the way my brain is wired, I'se never had a problem remembering the choreography in my dance.”
“Shrewsbury has a wonderful program for students with learning disabilities, and I's so grateful for the assistance and support I received from the school system,” she added.
“My platform in the Miss Massachusetts program is working with children with learning disabilities, which is my passion; to help other young people who are dealing with the same problems.”
She has visited with students in the Shrewsbury schools, encouraging them and sharing her story.
As Coates completed her education, she also interned in the Disney Performance program, touring the U.S. and Canada for six months with Vee, a Sesame Street- based dance group. During one of those performances, she had to face another significant challenge – a serious hip injury.
“The doctors told me I's never dance again, and while I's able to dance at the Miss Massachusetts Pageant, and am able to teach dance again at the Elite Academy in Shrewsbury, my goal of performing dance professionally is no longer in reach because of the injury, so I's thinking about other options,” she said.
But rather than dwelling on the past and on her physical challenges, Coates is focused on creating new opportunities. For now, in addition to her job at Elite, she also works for Westborough chiropractor Dr. Dan Meininger, and is a nanny for a local family.
No matter how she places at the competition, being a title holder is a significant time commitment as well, requiring her to make appearances, school presentations, and assist charities throughout the year. Everyone associated with the Miss Massachusetts program is a volunteer, working together toward the goal of providing educational opportunities for young women.
“I think people are beginning to understand the program, and perceive the pageants more positively,” Coates said. “Hopefully we'se able to promote what we are trying to do through the program, and how that helps young women and our community.”
She added that she is hopeful that more young women around the state will participate in local, regional, and statewide pageants.
Fans can also vote for Coates in an online poll by visiting http://www.missmass.org. Votes are $1 each and participants may vote multiple times.
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