News - DeKalb County

DeKalb teen captures state, competes for national Miss Amazing

Miss Amazing Teen Illinois Edith Reynolds (center), 19, of DeKalb, gets a high-five from Paralympic athlete Mary Kate Callahan as Reynolds and her mother, Mary Reynolds, talk with Callahan after Callahan's speech during the National Miss Amazing Gala on June 30, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare ballroom in Rosemont during the opening night of the competition.

DeKALB – As a teenager with special needs, being called “amazing” is one of the only titles Edith Reynolds will embrace.

The DeKalb 19-year-old was crowned Illinois Miss Amazing (teen division) in April. She went on to compete for the national title in a competition held June 30 through July 4 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont.

“I didn’t end up getting crowned (national), but that was OK,” said Reynolds, who will hold the state title until April.

Nevertheless, Reynolds said she will continue to push her can-do message of encouragement and inspiration. She suffers from epilepsy and has grand mal seizures, which can lead to loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.

But Reynolds is also an avid swimmer – and part of the YMCA swim team, a distance runner in track, cheerleader and more, all in addition to being a pageant queen. She is also a Girl Scout and said she has sold thousands of boxes of cookies since she joined.

“I would never let [my disability] get in front of me,” she said.

Her parents are among her biggest advocates and supporters.

“She does it all to prove the point that people with disabilities can do things just like everybody else,” her mother, Mary Reynolds, said. Mary Reynolds is a local Special Olympics coach, although she is legally blind and uses the aid of a guide dog.

The Miss Amazing contest was held in 30 states this year for girls and women with various physical and intellectual disabilities. The competition divisions include pre-teen through senior.

“It is a platform for girls and women with disabilities to share their abilities and ambitions with friends, family and the community,” according to the Miss Amazing website. “It is an experience that inspires all people to empower themselves and each other.”

As part of her title duties, Reynolds will be going around the DeKalb area sharing her stories of perseverance and triumph, mentoring and encouraging others, participating in parades and making other public appearances.

“If you like to do something, keep going towards it. If you have another dream, and you don’t like the dream you were heading towards, go for that one ... don’t give up,” she said when asked her message to others.

Reynolds will squeeze all of her work as Miss Amazing into an already tight schedule that includes participating in sports, which is her first love, and working to get her high school diploma. She is in a special education program at DeKalb High School where she has chosen to pursue getting a diploma instead of just a certificate of completion, Mary Reynolds said.

Sports are Reynolds’ first love. However, she started doing pageants when she was in junior high school and looks forward to competing for as long as she can. This year marked her second time competing in Miss Amazing.

The pageant is a lot like traditional ones. Miss Amazing contestants respond to a question, show off their glitzy side in the formal wear category and showcase their individual talent. Reynolds did a cheer routine this year.

She received an outpouring of community support as she competed for the state and national titles. Her list of more than a dozen supporters includes the DeKalb Fire Department and several local businesses. In total, they helped her collect about $2,000 to help cover expenses.

As she continues to pursue success, Reynolds is showing people that she has the same capabilities as others, although she might take a different route to reach her goals, Mary Reynolds said.

“[People with disabilities] can do just as much as others,” she said. “They just do it differently.”