When Paige Cushing won the Bowmen Pageant in March, she made a little bit of Sherwood High School History in the process.
Until three years ago, women couldn't compete in the pageant for this annual fundraiser for Doernbecher Children's Hospital. They could do the behind-the-scenes fundraising work — seniors compete in teams of two, with one representative from the team taking part in the pageant — but no women graced the Bowmen Pageant stage until recently.
And this year, Cushing became the first woman to win the Bowmen Pageant. She shared the honor with her partner, Lexi Gribble.
Cushing and Gribble raised the most funds of any team: over $8,700. Cushing also was chosen as the best pageant performer as well.
"I know some families that go to Doernbecher or go to hospitals similar to that," Cushing said when asked why she wanted to compete. "Especially with kids, I wanted to make an impact because a lot of those students, they can't afford treatment. I just wanted to make it easier for families, so they could focus more on the care and staying positive."
The partners raised money by organizing a bottle and can drive that brought in over 10,000 units; selling Krispy Kreme donuts; and cold-calling local businesses and asking for donations. Cushing said the experience helped her develop networking skills.
"I've definitely gained a lot of self-confidence and the ability to reach out and talk to new people," she said.
When it came to the night of the pageant on March 3, Cushing and the other contestants had a gauntlet of tasks in front of them: an opening dance number, a video presentation, a question and answer session, a talent portion and a closing dance.
Cushing played "Hey There Delilah" by the band Plain White T's on the piano for the talent portion. She learned piano when she was younger but hadn't played regularly for a few years, so she put a lot of practice hours in at home.
"I'm sure my family was very glad to be hearing it for the last time," she joked.
When the winning team was announced, Cushing said she felt particularly proud to be the first woman to win the Bowmen Pageant — and the fact that it was an all-woman team made it especially exciting.
Next year, Cushing plans to attend either Linfield College or University of Western Oregon and pursue a nursing degree — which means that her experience helping families battle illnesses is just beginning.
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