When somebody announces a fundraising activity, it usually means a bake sale, car wash or community auction.
But when Taylor Thomas, 17, began brainstorming ways to raise money so she could participate in a mission trip to Romania, she thought outside the box.
“We definitely wanted to do a spaghetti dinner and at first I thought about doing a talent show with it,” said Thomas. “I was talking about it with one of my friends and she gave me the idea to do a womanless beauty pageant.”
She decided to ask if the firemen at the Swepsonville Fire Department would be willing to partake in a pageant to help her raise the money.
Thomas and her mother, Rene Lefler, are close friends with a few of the men at the fire station.
Thomas has a rare syndrome called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (also known as POT Syndrome) that prevented her from having a normal teenage life, Lefler said. Now that she is feeling better, her cardiologist said Thomas should go on the mission trip.
“Our community is a very strong, put together community,” Lefler said. “Since she had been so sick, (the firemen) had been her guarders and looked after her.”
Tony Massey, one of the firemen at the station, has known Thomas for about six years. He described her as a warm-hearted, caring and giving individual.
“She’s always been a good girl,” he said. “She’s always done activities through the church. I know of four or five mission trips she has been on.”
Thomas said it did not take a lot of convincing to get the men to dress up as women for the fundraiser.
“Once I got a few of them involved, the other ones wanted to do it as well because they thought it was fun and a few of them just wanted to help me raise money,” said Thomas.
Lefler will cook spaghetti and homemade dessert and Texas Roadhouse has agreed to donate salad and bread for the dinner. After the meal, the beauty pageant will begin.
Each man will dress up, some with the help of their wives, in an evening gown and then later in a bathing suit. As in other beauty pageants, there will also be a talent portion.
“Each person is taking over their own thing,” Thomas said. “There’s no telling how it will turn out looking.”
The fire chief, Drew Sharpe, and two other firemen will be the judges. They will ask the contestants questions, just as in other pageants, Lefler said. The winner will receive a $50 gift card.
Thomas’ fundraiser will be at the Swepsonvile Fire Station on March 9 at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $10 through the event’s Facebook page.