Recently my family and the Foundation we co-founded (Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation) were honored with the “Spirit Award” at the Miss Philadelphia pageant, a component of the Miss America Organization. The award was given to our family because we “embody the very Spirit of Philadelphia and all our great, beloved city stands for”.
My family was so proud… but if you look at the picture of us with a few crown holders, my oldest son was perhaps the proudest of all. To folks that don’t know us, this picture looks like a 14 year old young man is so proud to be standing with beautiful young women… but the beauty he is proud to stand with is the best kind of beauty that everyone seems to talk about but little achieve: inner beauty.
My 14 year old blind son, as well as his 10 year old blind brother, cannot see facial features or details of perfect hairdo’s, clothes or figures… not even brilliant tiaras on the heads of beauty queens. What they can see is a person’s true features… through mannerisms, voice inflections, and other cues, my boys have a window into the souls of the rest of us.
From the time my guys were very little, they have been able to sense if a person is warm or cold-hearted, they can sense joyful hearts and sorrowful ones, and they know when to have their guard up with some folks and let it down with others. And they can do this in the first minutes of meeting and engaging with someone.
Sometimes I feel my guys have the advantage over us sighted people in that they make no judgement on outer beauty, just what’s on the inside… something so many preach to do but rarely can deliver.
We are so proud to be honored by the Miss Philadelphia/Miss America organization as they are teaching young women that outer looks are not what defines beauty: rather, it is the radiance of important soulful qualities like compassion, kindheartedness, generosity and confidence that render a person beautiful. When your soul radiates true beauty, the world, blind and sighted, sees a beautiful person.
Pictured above is my Family (Smedley) with Miss Philadelphia 2013 (Francesca Ruscio), Miss Philadelphia 2014 (Diamond Edmonds) and Miss Pennsylvania (Annie Rosellini) at the Miss Philadelphia 2014 pageant.