COPPERAS COVE — Forty-two young ladies will take to the stage Saturday hoping to capture one of the Krist Kindl Charity Pageant crowns.

But for Kayla West, the pageant is about much more than a sparkling tiara. For West, the pageant is literally a matter of life and death for her two young cousins who are afflicted with mitochondrial disease.

West, the reigning Young Miss Rabbit Fest, is heading up this year’s charity pageant, which returned to the festival last year after an absence of more than a decade. All proceeds from the pageant will be donated to the Mitochondria Foundation.

“My cousins are who inspired me to pick mitochondrial disease for my platform of service this year,” West said. “I spent a lot of time helping my aunt with getting them ready for bed and connecting them to their heart monitors, breathing tubes and feeding pumps.”

After being crowned in May, the high school junior made it her mission to draw awareness to this rare disease and raise money to find a cure. She spent two years helping take care of her two cousins who are not expected to live past the age of 10.

“Even though they have a lot of medical problems, my cousins don’t let their health issues limit them from having the best life they can have and they are just full of enthusiasm,” West said. “I am excited to raise awareness about mitochondrial disease and money to help families with all the expenses that come with this deadly disease.”

The pageant begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. The 42 contestants range in age from babies to adults. All contestants will receive a custom medal with the winners and runner-up selections receiving trophies.

The queens will be crowned in custom rhinestone tiaras fashioned to look like Kris Kringle after whom the festival with a German heritage was named.

They will also receive double-satin embroidered banners and bouquets of flowers courtesy of Michele’s Floral and Gifts.

The winners will be featured on a float in Cove’s Christmas parade Saturday at 3 p.m.

The KristKindlMarkt is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The event is free.

If you go

The Krist Kindl Charity Pageant returns Saturday for a second year to Copperas Cove’s annual three-day Christmas festival, Krist Kindl Markt.

When: Saturday at 10 a.m.

Where: Corner of Main Street and Avenue E. In the event of rain, the pageant will move indoors to Bearables, 209 S. Main St., Copperas Cove.

Why: Traditional beauty pageant to benefit the mitochondria foundation

Cost: Free; spectators should bring their own seating to watch the pageant as this is an outdoor festival.

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