Smiling Hearts pageant slated for this weekend

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This year a new non-profit organization has come into the county limits. The Smiling Hearts Foundation is a foundation to help raise awareness and assist those with milestones in their lives.

Marlaina James is the founder of this organization. James created this organization to help those with milestones in their life, along with raising money to help offset the costs of traveling for doctors’ appointments and other needs. She knows first hand the expenses that doctor’s appointments and traveling can cost.

“It means a lot to me,” said James, “I had a son who was born three months premature and he had cerebral palsy.”

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James knows the struggles and difficulties that come with having a child with a disability. Her main goal for this foundation is to create something in the community to make the kids and adults with these struggles smile and feel apart of the community.

“I want to be able to help this community and help integrate them into mainstream and help them into society,” said James, “we say they are a part of it but what do we have for them here in Luverne?”

On Friday, June 12, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the Luverne High School auditorium the smiling hearts foundation is putting on a pageant for everyone, whether you have a milestone in your life or not.

The theme of the pageant is, “Unspoken Words of the Disabled.” This pageant will be a three-part pageant for everyone between the ages of 3-50 years old and is something James feels will help those in our area.

“Let’s make them know they are important,” said James, “Keep smiles in those kids that have had milestones in their life.”

This event is part of the smiling hearts foundations efforts to raise money for those with disabilities. The cost for the event is $5.00 and the proceeds from that will help bring in scholarship funds for people who need it.

Teresa Smith the self-contained classroom teacher at Luverne High School hopes that students and people in the community will become more aware and is glad that James started this foundation to help.

“I just want people to be more aware of people that have special needs, they are just people to.” Said Smith.

There will be judges for contestants from all over the area including Dr. Walker from Luverne, Starla Jones from Elba and Annie Williams from the Crenshaw area.

After the pageant on June 13, 2015 the smiling hearts foundation will be having a bake sale at Luverne High School from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Half of the proceeds from that event will go to the special needs classes at the high school. Nothing at the bake sale will be over $3.00 said James.

“We want kids and adults to stand out,” said James, “ we want to help people in the community.

If you would like to volunteer at any of the smiling hearts foundations events and for more information regarding the pageant or bake sale please call Marlaina James at 334-342-8486. You can also check them out online at