One local mother is planning to host a community beauty pageant this month to raise scholarship money in memory of her daughter.
For the last six months, Lincolnton resident Barbara Smith has been organizing the event — named “Big and Beauty Pageant Show” — to honor her 21-year-old daughter Shakia Newman, who passed away from heart failure in March.
A 2010 graduate of Lincolnton High School, Newman participated on the track team and in the marching band.
At the time of her death, she was also preparing to be a massage therapist by attending classes at Gaston College. Smith said Newman only had one year of schooling left.
In addition to school, Newman worked part-time as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at both Lincolnton Nursing Center and Carillon Assisted Living, where she instantly met and befriended Katie Hoyle.
Newman was serving as the 20-year-old Hoyle’s trainer at the time.
“We just kind of clicked,” Hoyle said. “We were both kind of sassy and really got along with each other.”
The pair would text or chat on the phone daily — conversations Hoyle now misses dearly.
“It’s hard going from talking to someone every day to not,” she said.
Hoyle described Newman as her best friend — someone both “spunky” and always smiling.
The pageant, set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Hull’s Grove Baptist Church’s North Campus on Car Farm Road, will include at least 60 contestants ranging in age from 2 to 70 years old.
Individuals will also be a variety of shapes and sizes, Smith noted.
“That was Shakia’s thing,” she said. “She didn’t want to discriminate regarding size because she knew how difficult it was to be a big girl.
Newman would also often walk around the house, Smith added, saying the phrase “Big Girls Rock.”
The winner of each category and age group will receive a sash and crown.
Money raised from the pageant, which will also include performances from local singer and friend of Newman’s, Courtney Derr, will be used as scholarship money for at least one area resident.
While Smith said she and Newman’s father would like to raise $10,000 at the event, they remain unsure about how many recipients will get the money and whether they will be individuals needing financial medical assistance or star students seeking money for college.
Event judges will include Frances White, owner of Ebony and White’s Funeral Service, Pastor Eugene Brooks, of New Providence Full Gospel Church, Pastor Rosalyn Bynum, of Without Walls Freedom Center and model Leon Craig, one of Newman’s former teachers.
A dinner will follow the pageant at a cost of $10 a plate, Smith said.
While it’s been less than a year since she lost her only child, Smith is fully confident she’ll see her daughter in Heaven one day.
“I will see her again,” she said, “and I know she’s here with me.”
She also plans to hold the scholarship fundraiser and beauty pageant each year to keep Newman’s spirit alive — a spirit she described as “smart,” “beautiful,” “outgoing,” “loud,” “caring” and “loving.”
“As a mom, I don’t ever want the memories of my daughter to just vanish,” Smith said.
She also thanked her preacher Charles Littlejohn, the Newman and Smith families and all pageant participants and assistants with helping her organize an event that her daughter would be proud of.
“She would say, ‘Awesome, Mom,’” Smith said.
For more information on the event or to purchase a dinner plate in advance, call (704) 308-5520.