West side girl with spina bifida featured on HBO documentary | Families
Area TV viewers who missed Monday night’s broadcast of HBO’s new documentary - Miss “You Can Do It” – have another chance to see the film featuring former local Easter Seals Child Representative Ali Shanks, daughter of Peggy and Mike Shanks of Evansville. HBO will rebroadcast the movie this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Evansville time.
Miss “You Can Do It” celebrates girls with disabilities and their “big dreams, little wishes and major triumphs.” The setting of the documentary is the annual Miss You Can Do It pageant, which was founded by Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa USA 2008 and the first Miss USA contestant with a disability (cerebral palsy). (Ali Shanks is pictured with Abbey Curran in the attached photo.)
The HBO film has been two years in the making. In the summer of 2011, Curran and film director Ron Davis visited Easter Seals affiliates in the midwest, including the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center in Evansville. Curran invited area families to get involved in her unique pageant, which they say "strives to show girls with disabilities they are all beautiful". Davis announced plans for the documentary and began considering individual stories to highlight in the film.
Monday night, TV viewers across the country followed the heartwarming experiences of Ali Shanks and seven other Miss “You Can Do It” participants. Ali is now 8 years old and attends West Terrace Elementary School. Ali, who has spina bifida, shared her bubbly personality with tri-staters when she served as local Easter Seals Child Representative in 2012. Ali continues receiving therapy services from the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center to help her achieve her goals for independence.
The Shanks family attended a “world premiere” of the documentary in Chicago last week. “It’s an awesome documentary, from beginning to end,” said Ali’s mom, Peggy Shanks. Other local girls who participated in the pageant and are seen in the film include Carly Dockery, Hope Fuller and Riley Helmer.