When Dee dee Hintz got a phone call from someone saying that her 7-year-old granddaughter, Angelique "Angel" Heick (pictured), had been recommended by an anonymous source for the National American Miss pageant, she was a little leery.
At first, she thought this was like the controversial TV reality series "Toddlers & Tiaras" or a similar type of dolled up pre-teen fashion shows. But it turned out to be exactly the opposite.
"The first thing that got me was the no-makeup rule," Hintz said. "(The contestants) aren't allowed to wear makeup or hairpieces. It's not about how they look or how they're dressed -- it's about who they are."
National American Miss is an annual contest designed to develop confidence, independence, poise and community involvement in young girls. It is open to girls ages 4 to 18 and is divided into five different pageants, each for a specific age group.
Heick -- a top-performing second-grader at Byron-Bergen Elementary School, a three-year Girl Scout and a four-year soccer player with Gillam-Grant -- will take part in the New York Junior Pre-Teen pageant from Aug. 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency in Rochester. She will be competing with girls from all over Western and Central New York for the title of Miss New York.
Among other things, the requirements for her age group include writing an essay, submitting report cards (Hintz said the grades don't officially count, but are taken into consideration) and writing a résumé.
As part of an optional talent portion, Heick is also going to perform in a commercial for the young girls clothing retailer "Justice."
Once on stage, the girls will introduce themselves to a large crowd of people and be interviewed by the pageant judges, answering questions such as what they want to be when they grow up, why they want to represent their state in this pageant, etc.
Contestants are judged in four categories:
Formal Wear (30%)
Personal Introduction (30%)
Community Involvement (10%)
For the "community involvement" component, Heick is donating 12 toys for each month of the year to Community Action of Orleans and Genesee. Each set of 12 toys will go to six boys and six girls.
She said she is buying these toys with the money she earns by "doing jobs" around the house.
If she wins the title, she will be given a paid trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., where she will compete in the nationals. In the meantime, she will also have the opportunity to meet Governor Andrew Cuomo, be an honored speaker at the state fair, and crown her successor at next year's pageant.
More importantly, she wants to use the influence she will have as Miss New York for the good of others.
"If I win the title, I want to educate parents and children about the dangers of bullying," Heick said.
That goal is consistent with Heick's compassionate character, which her grandmother had a lot to say about.
Hintz and her husband are raising Heick and her three siblings in Bergen. She said that compassion is Heick's top quality.
As an example, she mentioned the fact that Heick found a wounded frog in January and brought it home, where the family took care of it and fed it until it got better. In March, they let it go free.
"She's also a great big sister," Hintz said, pointing out that she reacts with patience whenever her younger sister steals her things (which is all the time).
She also feels very deeply for the victims of bullying and violence, even if she only knows about them from the media.
With her positive, upbeat attitude and personal strength, Heick has also been recognized as a leader among her peers.
"Every day she teaches me so much," Hintz said. "I want her to get where she wants to go. She has goals, works at them, and somehow accomplishes them."
Heick said her ultimate career goal is to become a cardiac neonatal surgeon.
"I want to help little babies and work on their hearts, "she said.
With three months to go, Heick still needs local sponsors.
So far, she has been sponsored by Genesee Patrons Cooperative Insurance Company, Computer and Phone Repair, Marchese Computer Products, Urban Preschool, and Intelligent Choice of WNY (Hintz's business). She needs to raise $220 more in sponsorship fees, so any help will be greatly appreciated.
Heick is also participating in an advertising contest. If she gets eight pages of advertising for the pageant program, she will win a $1,500 scholarship for college.
Anyone interested in sponsoring and/or advertising with Heick should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit Heick's Web site: www.angeliqueheick.com. For more details on National American Miss, go to the FAQs page on the program's Web site.