There's something different about Miss Smiling Eyes Pittsburgh
By Julie E. Martin
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Maggie Donaldson demonstrates that the luck of the Irish, in reality, comes from hard work and dedication.
The 17-year-old West Deer girl was crowned this year's Miss Smiling Irish Eyes Pittsburgh.
She will lead Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, riding a float and then watching from the grandstand.
“Miss Smiling Irish Eyes is a huge honor, really,” Donaldson said.
It's an honor that goes each year to a female of Irish descent in the Pittsburgh area between 17 and 22 years old. Applicants are selected based upon their demonstration of moral character, ethical ideals and poise, according to information from the Miss Smiling Irish Eyes committee.
This year, the honor is even more special, for a number of reasons.
First, Donaldson is the 50th Miss Smiling Irish Eyes Pittsburgh to be named.
But that's not the most important distinction.
Donaldson is also the first deaf woman to receive the honor in its 50-year history.
“I have always told myself that if I ever won, I would prove to everyone that deaf people can do anything if they set their minds to it,” she said in an interview via email.
It's clear that Donaldson, who attends the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as well as Deer Lakes High School and Waterfront Learning, has applied that belief to everything she does.
“In order to win the title, you have to be involved in community service, school athletics, extracurricular activities, earn multiple awards and be extremely involved in the Irish community,” she said.
She does all of that, and more.
Donaldson is valedictorian at her school and a member of the National Honor Society. She serves as vice president of her student government as well as the vice president of the Junior National Association for the Deaf.
In addition, she lettered in track, volleyball, cheerleading and softball.
She is also president of the junior Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians — Division 23, an Irish Catholic organization.
“We're very proud of Maggie. She's an outstanding young girl,” said Peggy Cooney, chairman of the parade's Miss Smiling Irish Eyes Committee.
Cooney said Donaldson has been a member of the Hibernians since she was young. She noted that Donaldson has found unique ways to help others, like organizing a prom at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.
“One of the last things she said (on her Miss Smiling Eyes application) was she feels it's her responsibility to get rid of the old connotation of ‘deaf and dumb,'” Cooney said.
It's clear that Donaldson sees her situation as the furthest from that.
In fact, she says if she weren't deaf, she might not push herself as hard as she does.
“‘Deaf and dumb' is a silly stereotype that clearly does not apply to us anymore,” she said. “There are so many successful deaf people out there.
“Being deaf has been a blessing for me,” Donaldson said. “I've been able to see life through my hearing family, and through my deaf friends and community.
“It's made me work hard to prove that I'm no different than anyone else.”
Her parents, Lilli and Tom Donaldson, are proud to see their daughter receive the Miss Smiling Irish Eyes crown.
“She has wanted this since she was a little girl and it's so nice to see one of her dreams come true,” said Lilli Donaldson.
“Maggie has always been a very motivated person. She has her different schools and activities and manages them all quite well.”
In turn, Donaldson credits her family as inspiration.
“My parents have always pushed me to work hard,” she said. “They never let me use my deafness as an excuse to not do my best.”
Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Owner of Natrona Heights store indicted for food stamp fraud
- Classic novel, new film share similar titles, not much else
- Suspected burglar awaits extradition from Ohio
- White Oak woman charged in police chase case
- More people choosing traditional Christmas tree, growers say
- ‘Welcome Christmas’ at Casino Theatre embraces the reason for the season
- Lower Burrell police chase ends in crash, fire
- Police chase lands New Ken man in jail
- Deer Lakes offers longtime teachers an early retirement package
- East Deer to buy $61,000 dump truck
- Suspect eludes Freeport police by jumping into Buffalo Creek