VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Lanis Geluso has been a cycle instructor at OneLife Fitness for years.
She calls it her “fun” job, as she’s a full time sergeant with the Virginia Beach Police Department.
“In my line of work for years I worked with crimes against children, and for years I see really sad things,” she said.
However, she says one moment several years ago allowed her to see children in a happy environment at the Virginia Miss Amazing event.
Miss Amazing provides opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build confidence in a supportive environment.
The girls show off their talents, participate in activities like art, and lastly get made over before putting on the big dress.
“On the police department, I actually started by helping being an escort for the formal gown portion and I just fell in love with the girls,” Geluso explained.
It was young women, like 13-year-old Christiana Hedrick, that took Geluso’s breath away.
“I love Miss Amazing because I love twirling my dress around.” Hedrick smiled as she embraced her sash.
Hedrick is the 2017 Virginia Miss Amazing program winner.
“When you see somebody with special needs I think there is this stigma like, don’t stare, don’t look at them or you know they are just special, they’re different, but you know what, these girls they’re like, ‘look at me, I’m beautiful look what I can do,'” Geluso stated.
Hedrick says the program has not only empowered her, but other girls she’s met through it too.
“I felt brave and I felt pretty good and I felt like kind of nervous but I got it but I feel really brave to be on stage to people cheering me on,” Hedrick said.
Geluso was so inspired by the girls, she’s now an assistant director for the Virginia Chapter of Miss Amazing and with the event a little over a month away, she’s hoping you’ll come out and cycle for the cause.
“We’re going to take you through a ride, all the money goes towards Virginia Miss Amazing,” Geluso said.
The actual Virginia Miss Amazing event will be on April 13, and is free to the public.
The fundraiser is at the OneLife Fitness Center at Redmill in Virginia Beach and will consist of six, 25-minute cycle sessions. That event is March 24 from noon-3 p.m.
Participants pay $25 for an hour of bike riding.
During the fundraiser there will be several past participants and crowned winners of Miss Amazing.
The girls are not able to ride the bikes, but they love to come in the cycle room to dance and cheer the riders on.
Geluso says just seeing the girls is an inspiration, and a drop in the bucket of what you experience if you attend the Miss Amazing Event.
The Miss Amazing Pageant is a nationwide non-profit organization. Its mission is to provide an opportunity for girls and young women with disabilities to build confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment.
This yearly event will be hosted by the Virginia Beach Police Department Training Academy on April 13. It is open to the public and participants are residents of Virginia ages 5-plus. To learn more, visit Virginia Miss Amazing’s Facebook page.