I should have worn waterproof mascara

The girls loved the feather boas

It was the great “pinkout” of the summer, complete with a pink carpet and boas galore. The tenth floor of the Spertus Institute on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue was transformed into a pre-teen girl’s version of paradise Wednesday for the premiere of the HBO documentary Miss You Can Do It. Many of us here at Easter Seals Headquarters left our cubicles behind for a day full of laughter, tears, and of course, lots of Justin Bieber music at the film’s premiere. It was a celebration of five incredible families, a brave filmmaker, and an inspirational beauty queen who combined efforts to create the Miss You Can Do It HBO documentary. This was a day where disabilities meant nothing and inner-beauty meant everything.

From the minute the young guests arrived, they were treated to a celebrity experience. The girls worked the pink carpet, sipped on fizzy mocktails, and had their pictures taken with the building’s stunning lake view as a backdrop. After an hour of mingling and delicious food (I’m still dreaming about the mini hot dogs) it was time for the film’s premiere.

For 70 minutes, the 200-person audience got a glimpse into the lives of eight amazing young girls. Any negative thoughts on pageants quickly disappeared as the audience learned about Abbey Curran, the Miss You Can Do It founder. Abbey Curran is the former Miss Iowa, and she is the first woman with a disability to compete in the Miss USA Pageant. Curran, who has cerebral palsy, created the Miss You Can Do It pageant to give other girls the chance to feel beautiful.

Everyone was all smiles!

Filmmaker Ron Davis captured the joys and hardships families who have children with disabilities face. This screening was the first time the families saw the complete film. I should have worn waterproof mascara, because the tears were flowing. Some of the waterworks were out of heartache, but the majority were from joy.

Abby Curran and Ron Davis

Miss You Can Do It contains so many powerful messages about beauty and disabilities that I found myself smiling for hours after the film was over. Some of us at Easter Seals are already planning our trip to this year’s July pageant.

Everyone got the royal treatment

The celebrity treatment continued after the film: the girls got to rotate between booths for hair, nails, and facepaint. I felt star-struck approaching the girls after the film. One of the film’s stars, the hilarious Ali Shanks, complimented my playlist for the event, but mentioned that I missed some of Bieber’s good songs (duly noted).

A good time was had by all!

As I looked at the girls’ smiling faces I realized, for the millionth time, how lucky I am to have this summer internship at Easter Seals. This event was life-changing — not only for the stars of the film, but for me too. These happy young girls and their courageous families will continue to inspire me long after my internship is over.

I encourage EVERYONE to tune in for the HBO premiere of Miss You Can Do It on June 24th. This film will educate and inspire people of all ages. This is not some “toddlers and tiaras” documentary — it’s a 70 minute celebration. These girls have proven that they really can do it.


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  4. Rachel Says:

    This is such an awesome post, Elsa. You captured the essence of this event just beautifully! One of my favorite times at work for sure.

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