Spotlight Shines on Girls and Teens with Disabilities at 11th Annual Miss Arc Broward Pageant

Fifteen young girls and teens with disabilities lit up the stage at the 11th Annual Miss Arc Broward Pageant, sending a powerful message of inclusion and acceptance to the South Florida community.

Throughout the pageant season, which began in February, contestants participated in various activities and special events designed to build friendships, self-esteem, and confidence, with 20 teen ambassadors from high schools across Broward County serving as mentors.

This year’s contestants included: Hailey Acevedo, 15, Coral Springs; Halia Allen, 13, Hollywood; Zoe Burgess, 15, Coral Springs; Alyssa Custodio, 16, Coral Springs; Grace Ann Garland, 17, Hollywood; Madison Gerstein, 9, Hollywood; Mikayla Golka, 11, Parkland; Kayla Mills, 16, Hollywood; Nevaeh Myers, 15, Jupiter; Elizabeth Rivera, 12, Weston; Luciana Avella Rodriguez, 9, Pembroke Pines; Nola Schader, 15, Miramar; Alessandra Soto, 16, Hollywood; Kiely Vassar, 6, Fort Lauderdale; and Leila Yates, 13, Pembroke Pines.

Contestants showcased their talents and personalities on stage while the audience cheered, applauded, and waved supportive signs. Mikayla Golka, impressed everyone with her deep knowledge of the Florida Panthers, showing her loyalty as a longtime fan of the NHL hockey team. Kayla Mills sang a song and spoke passionately about advocating for those with “invisible” disabilities. Other contestants displayed their talents in various ways, such as singing, dancing, martial arts, and storytelling.

While everyone was a winner, the spotlight shone especially bright on 11-year-old Mikayla Golka from Parkland and 16-year-old Kayla Mills from Hollywood, who were crowned Little Miss Arc and Miss Arc Broward respectively. It was an emotional moment for their friends and family in the audience at The Parker.

Since being crowned Little Miss Arc, and with the Florida Panthers competing in the Stanley Cup finals, Golka has been using her platform and super fan status to spread a message of inclusion and acceptance to a national audience with an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” prior to the Panthers’ first game of the finals.

“The Miss Arc Pageant is a unique event that empowers young girls and teens with disabilities to pursue their dreams. It celebrates their amazing abilities and shows that individuals with disabilities deserve opportunities to shine,” said Julie Price, Arc Broward CEO. “We are grateful to our sponsors and volunteers who make this pageant possible and promote greater awareness and acceptance of those with disabilities.”

The Miss Arc Broward Pageant was led by co-chairs Natalie Glusman and Candace Kelly. It was presented by Pediatric Associates and supported by numerous sponsors, including iHeart, The Palmer Family, UKG, Princess Cruises, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, and more.

Arc Broward offers transformative opportunities for children and adults with disabilities and other life challenges. For more information about Arc Broward’s programs and services, visit