Seven seniors at Battle Ground High School competed for the honor and crown of being the “Best of BG” on Saturday, March 25, during a charity pageant that raised money for teenager Luke Montei, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
The Best of BG charitable pageant provides fun and entertainment, but the proceeds raised through the auction, seat sales and donations go toward a heartfelt cause.
This year, the Sparrow Club decided to raise money to help cover medical expenses for Montei, a 15-year-old from Vancouver. Montei has been in and out of hospital for his whole life. He has now had 20 surgeries with his most recent one on Sunday, March 26 being a heart transplant. Montei’s family stated on social media the surgery went well, but will require time for the teenager to become stable.
The pageant took place on Montei’s 85th day at Seattle Children’s Hospital. It raised $2,743 for Montei’s family. A silent auction that was held earlier in the day at Rocky’s Pizza raised upwards of $4,000.
“I really am appreciative of the cause. Hearing Luke’s story was difficult,” Battle Ground Deputy Mayor Cherish DesRochers said. “I think everyone did a really fantastic job. It was definitely difficult to pick a winner.”
Logen Neilson was named the people’s choice winner, while Ethan Valtierra was selected by the three judges as the winner of the event.
Valtierra won over the judges with a performance of the dance originally done by Hockinson resident, Jon Heder, in the 2004 cult classic movie, “Napoleon Dynamite.”
Neilson, who is a student in the drama class, highlighted his time on the stage with his consistent presence.
A dance with all of the contestants and fill-in, junior director for the pageant, Louie Ledbury, opened the ceremonies. Contestant Justin Jones was unable to participate.
After the opening dance, Morgan Nixon, a senior at Battle Ground High School who is originally from South Africa, brought her golden retriever onto the stage dressed in a Hawaiian shirt for the beachwear portion of the event.
Then followed sleepwear, casual wear and a chance for the contestants to pay homage to an “inspirational staff member.” Valtierra and Neilson, who are both drama students, selected their beloved teacher, Stephan “Cash” Henry, during the segment.
A talent portion of the pageant included a performance by contestant Evan Bliss and a basketball trick shot video by contestant Brad Cappadona.
After a 20-minute intermission where the votes were counted, the contestants came to the stage with their companion of choice while dressed in formal attire.
Laura Queen, from the Sparrow Club, came on stage to share more about the Sparrow Club and Montei as the proceeds were presented to his family.
“It was amazing. It was so thoughtfully put together and every single one of the contestants did so well,” Miss Clark County Vanessa Munson, a judge for the pageant, said. “Thank you for having us. It was amazing to be here and to support such a tremendous cause.”
The pageant was judged by DesRochers, Munson and Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Denny Waters.
A full video from the pageant can be found on YouTube channel BGTV 27. It is titled “Best of BG 2023.” It can also be found online at youtube.com/live/5142KK4Z BUg?feature=share.
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Very nice story Cade Barker. It's great to see the community pull together for a local family in need.
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