Highland News Leader

Men in drag, local nonprofit use toilets to raise money for pediatric cancer research

The contestants of the Miss LOL Pageant from left to right are: Tom “Hollywood”  Switzer, Boyd “Justice” Rinderer, Joe “Helga” Horstmann, Chad “Cheetah” Zobrist, Chad “Che Che” Zurliene, Bill “Isabilla” Sloan, Brian “Breyoncé” Beard, Jim “Mercedes” Meridith and Steve “Cherri” Carey. Contestants not pictured are Brian “Frogetta” Weiss, Ben “Clementine” Eberwein and Brent “Marshmellow” Knebel. The men will compete in the pageant on May 11, 2019. In the meantime, the contestants are raising money and awareness for childhood cancer through the local nonprofit organization Leaps of Love.
The contestants of the Miss LOL Pageant from left to right are: Tom “Hollywood” Switzer, Boyd “Justice” Rinderer, Joe “Helga” Horstmann, Chad “Cheetah” Zobrist, Chad “Che Che” Zurliene, Bill “Isabilla” Sloan, Brian “Breyoncé” Beard, Jim “Mercedes” Meridith and Steve “Cherri” Carey. Contestants not pictured are Brian “Frogetta” Weiss, Ben “Clementine” Eberwein and Brent “Marshmellow” Knebel. The men will compete in the pageant on May 11, 2019. In the meantime, the contestants are raising money and awareness for childhood cancer through the local nonprofit organization Leaps of Love. Provided by Heather Pearson Photography

As autumn starts to peek around the corner, Highlanders might have to worry about more than just fallen leaves appearing in their yards.

Starting Sept. 1, the contestants of the 2019 Ms. LOL Pageant will be “professionally installing” toilets on front lawns in order to raise awareness for a good cause.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, one of the biggest months for the local nonprofit organization Leaps of Love (LOL).

Only 4 percent of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. This statistic moved Traci Reichmann to found the organization. Aside from embracing families affected by childhood brain tumors and late-effects of childhood cancer, the organization works to spread awareness and raise funds for childhood cancer research.

“These children are our future,” Reichmann said.

One of the organization’s largest fundraiser events of the year recently passed. Each year, LOL teams up with Heather Pearson Photography to put on the annual Fashion for LOL fashion show. This event, which was on Aug. 11, combines Pearson’s team of models and LOL kids, which are childhood cancer survivors and their siblings, into one-runway walk for childhood cancer.

Heather Pearson Photography - LOL Pageant - Parade 2018 375.JPG
Chad “Cheetah” Zobrist throws some candy during the 2018 Schweizerfes parade. The 2019 Ms. LOL Pageant contestants made their debut during the parade. The pageant is sponsored by Leaps of Love, and until the May 11 event, the 12 contestants will be working in different ways throughout the community to raise awareness about childhood cancer. Provided by Heather Pearson Photography

Reichmann said although it is currently unknown how much this event raised, before the event began on Aug. 11, LOL and Pearson had already brought in well over their goal of $5,000.

However, the effort of raising awareness is never over, and Reichmann said this September she is taking a fun spin on things.

“Hopefully it will start a good path,” Reichmann said.

In May, Reichmann gathered 12 contestants for the 2019 Ms. LOL Pageant. Throughout the year, these contestants have worked in several ways to raise funds for childhood cancer research. But, don’t be surprised if you do a double take when you see one of these contestants. They aren’t your normal beauty queens.

They may be sporting hairy legs in miniskirts, their long, luscious locks are probably wigs, and their womanly curves aren’t so womanly, but these 12 men are strutting their stuff to raise money and awareness.

Reichmann said the men will compete under their personalized pageant names in the miniskirt, talent and nightgown competitions for the Ms. LOL title at the pageant on May 11.

Watch a video of the contestants’ debut at Schweizerfest on this Facebook post.

A lot of time rests between now and the pageant, and every moment counts in this competition. The contestants are also competing for the People’s Choice award. For this title, each $1 raised counts as a single vote and the man with the most votes wins.

Rinderer.jpg
Boyd “Justice” Rinderer strikes a pose for the camera. Boyd is one of the 12 contestants in the 2019 Ms. LOL Pageant. The event is sponsored by the local nonprofit Leaps of Love, and works to raise awareness for childhood cancer. The pageant will be May 11, and the men will compete in miniskirt, talent and evening gown competitions. Provided by Heather Pearson Photography

To raise the money, some of the contestants have hosted car washes, raffles, ice cream socials and shaved their heads. Reichmann said they will make appearances as celebrity bartenders at Railshake on Sept. 15 and Ethel’s on Sept. 23.

“Everybody’s kind of coming up with different ideas,” Reichmann said.

But this month, the competition will be put aside for one collective effort to “flush out childhood cancer.”

Anyone can participate in the challenge by “Flushing a Friend.” The challenge’s “Potty Policy” is participants can nominate friends to have toilets placed in their yards. The victim will then have to pay $10 to have the toilet “professionally removed” by the Ms. LOL contestants, or they can pay $20 and have the toilet moved to another friend’s yard.

“We have like 15 toilets that are going to be passed around the city of Highland,” Reichmann said.

Those who fear potty peril also have an out. “Potty Insurance” can be bought for $30.

Reichmann also said a letter will show up on the doorsteps of those who have been “toileted.” If you do not wish to participate in the challenge, the letter relays how you can get the toilet safely removed. Reichmann asks that if you do not wish to participate, please don’t try to move or break the toilet, so others may have the chance to “flush” or get “flushed.”

“It’s all in good humor to raise awareness,” Reichmann said.

To learn more about the challenge, text “FLUSH” to 71777 or visit this website.

LOL Potty Policy.jpg
The flyer for the Flush Out Childhood Cancer challenge. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and this monthlong event is hosted by the Highland nonprofit organization Leaps of Love to help raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer research. Participants nominate friends for a toilet to be placed in their yard. The toilet can be removed for $10 or removed and placed in another yard for $20. Those trying to avoid the potty placement can pay $30 for insurance. Provided

In addition to this event, Reichmann said she encourages everyone to go gold for the month of September.

Gold is the childhood cancer awareness color, so Reichmann suggests changing Facebook cover photos and profile pictures to gold, changing porch lights, wearing gold or sponsoring “Gold-out” days, where local businesses or establishments wear nothing but gold.

The Highland High School football team was the first to take up this initiative. The Bulldogs have agreed to wear gold socks in each of their September games. The team’s first game in the socks will be Sept. 7. The Quarterback Club, Highland’s youth football team, has also agreed to wear the socks during their games, which are on Sundays.

Reichmann has also partnered to have awareness bracelets made, which can be bought for $25.

For more information on supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to participate in the Flush Fund or to learn how to become a pageant sponsor, contact the Leaps of Love office at 618-410-7212 or email info@leapsoflove.org. Reichmann said that any effort that can be made to raise awareness is worth a shot.

“If I have to do in it goofy ways like dressing up men, then I’ll do it,” Reichmann said.

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