Spotlight Shines On Girls And Teens With Disabilities At 11th Annual Miss Arc Broward Pageant

Pageant empowers young women with disabilities and spreads message of inclusion

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA (JUNE 14, 2024) – Hearts were warmed when 15 young girls and teens with disabilities shared an incredible moment in the spotlight during the 11th Annual Miss Arc Broward Pageant presented by Pediatric Associates, sending a powerful message of inclusion and acceptance to the South Florida community.

While everyone was a winner, 11-year-old Mikayla Golka of Parkland and 16-year-old Kayla Mills of Hollywood were crowned Little Miss Arc and Miss Arc Broward in an emotional moment on stage for friends and family who were in the audience at The Parker.

“The Miss Arc Pageant is a one-of-a-kind platform that empowers young girls and teens with disabilities to pursue their dreams, celebrates their extraordinary abilities and sends a powerful message that individuals with disabilities deserve opportunities to shine,” said Julie Price, Arc Broward CEO. “We are grateful to all of our sponsors and volunteers who bring this pageant to life while promoting greater awareness, acceptance and understanding of those with disabilities.”

Contestants showcased their talents and personalities on stage while audience members cheered, applauded and waved signs with messages of support. Golka, who was crowned Little Miss Arc, displayed her Florida Panthers knowledge as a loyal and longtime fan of the NHL hockey team, while Mills, who won the Miss Arc title, sang a song and spoke passionately about advocating for those with “invisible” disabilities. Other contestants conveyed their personalities and showcased their talents in various ways, including through song and dance, a martial arts demonstration, and sharing a story they wrote.

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

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 Broward Pageant brings in families from the South Florida community and serves as a wonderful reminder to talk with children about people with disabilities and teach inclusion from a young age,” said Price.

Throughout the pageant season that kicked off in February, contestants participated in a variety of activities and special events designed to foster friendship, self-esteem and confidence, with a group of 20 teen ambassadors from high schools throughout Broward serving as advocates and mentoring contestants.

The Miss Arc Broward Pageant was led by co-chairs Natalie Glusman and Candace Kelly. It was presented by Pediatric Associates and sponsored by: iHeart; The Palmer Family; UKG; Princess Cruises; Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital; Right Management; Aligned Solutions; Amarant; Holland and Knight; Strawberry Shortcake; Florida Girls Giving Back; SouthState Bank; Wild, Felice & Partners, P.A; Arc Works Business Advisory Council; Cheryl Higgins; Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC; Centennial Bank; Broward Health; Publix Super Market Charities; Sweet Peas; Special Needs Group; The Galleria Fort Lauderdale; AK Building Services; Special Education Advocacy; Black Law P.A.; Jeff Fauer and Henny Shomar; Heather Holt Photography; Casbah Spa; ECR Graphics; Conor Storch and Co.

Arc Broward’s continuum of services provide transformative opportunities for children and adults with disabilities and other life challenges. For more information about the vital programs and services Arc Broward provides, visit