COVINGTON -- Beth Bradley is a cancer survivor and beauty queen who decided to create a very different kind of pageant.
The result is the Miss Sweetheart Relay Pageant, which encourages contestants to raise money for Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
"I do pageants and I've held many national titles and I said if I ever did a pageant it would benefit something. Since I'm a cancer survivor myself, I picked Relay as a benefit," Bradley said.
Now in its seventh year, the pageant has become a staple event each fall in Newton County, and last year raised more than $5,700.
Contestants are asked to solicit donations and sell ads for the pageant's program to benefit Relay. The contestant who raises the most money will be honored with the Miss Spirit Relay title. Entry fees are $60 and also go to benefit Relay. In addition, a photographer will donate a portion of the proceeds from picture packages ordered.
"I keep none of the money. I cover the bills and after that, all the money goes to Relay. I keep the bills to a minimum through donations and I get special pricing. I wheel and deal. I work on this all year," Bradley said.
Contestants are judged in gown only and gowns are required to be age appropriate. Miss Sweetheart Relay is a natural pageant, meaning hair and make up should be age appropriate.
"This pageant is for every little girl. You don't have to wear a pageant dress; you can wear your Sunday best," Bradley said. "This is not 'Toddlers and Tiaras.'"
There are nine categories for contestants from birth to 24. Winners will participate in Relay for Life, the annual community Christmas parade and other events throughout the year.
Bradley encourages those who want to participate to sign up now and begin raising funds. The entry deadline is Oct. 4. Call 770-377-9244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an entry form or more information.
The pageant will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, at Eastside High School. The public is welcome to attend. Admission fees are $5 for adults and $2 for students. Admission fees also benefit Relay for Life.