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Beauty finalist's vision of goal is clear

Vision loss doesn’t stop a Ponoka beauty pageant contestant from setting her sights high.

Ann-Marie Rogers-Cooper vies for the Miss Teen Canada World regional title late next month in Calgary.

A win there would take her to the Toronto national competition next summer.

The 16-year-old suffers from optic neuritis, an optic nerve inflammation causing blurred vision.

The condition can lead to permanent blindness.

Attacks began three years ago, although her eyesight has improved recently.

“It’s the best I’ve seen since I lost my vision,” said the Ponoka Composite High School Grade 11 student.

“It changes on a daily basis. One morning I can see really well and the next there’s a haze.”

After five months of treatment in hospital, and her self-confidence eroded, Rogers-Cooper rebuilt it by entering pageants, an idea inspired by mocking a Toddlers & Tiaras TV episode and encountering a woman buying western outfits for her pageant-going daughter.

“Pageants have really helped me get out of my box.”

She’s competed in a dozen, never placing below third, and most recently won the Junior Teen Miss National Canadian Girl Alberta title. She’ll represent Alberta at its nationals in Vancouver next July.

First up though, is facing 50 other finalists at the Miss Teen Canada World regionals.

Rogers-Cooper said she and friends constantly debate whether such competitions are based only on a girl’s looks.

“It’s not beauty. You have poise, elegance, answering the onstage question. And we’re disciplined.

“You have to practice over and over.”

January’s event includes a three-to-five-minute oral presentation and the bubbly blond plans to speak about her support for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

“I do workshops through them on how to use technology.”

Until then, her focus is on finding sponsors to help defray costs.

“The entry fee is $987 and then there’s the hotel, dresses and outfits.”

Ponoka town council is supporting her, as are a few local businesses.

Those interested in sponsoring can contact her through her Facebook page or her mother Cory at 403-307-3346 or by email at



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