I had a great chat on the phone with a very helpful woman in the Sales Department at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. She confirmed for me that the Flab to Fabulous Pageant does NOT have any event space booked for the dates May 26 to June 2. Those are the dates listed in this “Sponsorship Packet” I downloaded from the website. BUT the “Fabulous Foundation” DOES have various spaces reserved for the dates August 16 through the 26th including one of the smaller ballrooms and banquet rooms. They would have been required to put down a deposit to reserve these spaces and they can be cancelled. The percentage of refund they would get would depend on when they cancel.
When I first looked at the website, everything about it set off alarms in my head. It did not take much poking around to find plenty that just does not seem to add up. It has shocked me that so many people are not questioning the legitimacy of this event and its organizers.
Notice, for example, that the website does not list the pageant date ANYWHERE. You can only find the dates if you download that Sponsorship Packet and those May-June dates are definitely NOT what they have reserved with the Hyatt Regency. Are the organizers waiting to see how much money they’ll be able to collect in entry and semi-finalist fees before they decide to publicize confirmed dates? If they don’t collect enough money, would they cancel the event? Because if there’s one thing the website definitely makes clear THERE ARE NO REFUNDS and you might even get just plain blown off. The official rules include this warning:
Read all rules and guidelines for each phase carefully. You will NOT be contacted if your packet is missing items. It will be discarded, not judged and no refund will be given.
Well isn’t that nice! The entry fee is $97 and will become $199 after March 1. The Official Rules also claim that a “generous benefactor” covered the entry fee for the first 150 entrants but I know of people who have already paid so are we to assume that more than 150 people have entered? I guess so!
Also tucked away in the Official Rules is the information that after shelling out the entry fee, people chosen as “Semi-Finalists” are required to purchase a “package,” payable to the pageant for as much as $6600. This package includes hotel, travel, and food with no details provided what actual accommodations you would get. And of course there are NO refunds. The proposed 204 Finalists would represent over $1.3MM alone.
I admit it. I have grave suspicions about the pageant organizer, “Charlie Brown.” She describes herself as a highly-sought after educator. In digging around for her old websites, I found that she claims to have held seminars around the world for “hundreds of thousands” of people. That should make her extremely high-profile, wouldn’t it? A testimonials page is filled with fake photos, easily found on other web pages. She says she’s been the “CEO of the Fabulous Foundation for 12 years.” Well, there’s a little glitch there. The foundation was only registered as a non-profit corporation in Georgia last April.
Download that Sponsorship Packet and you’ll see the photos of an unnamed “2012 Honorary Winner” and “Penny Rudd–2012 Winner.” While Ms. Rudd’s Facebook page includes the same photo plus a couple more, I can find no evidence on her profile or anywhere online that a pageant was actually held last year. The domain name “flabtofabulouspageant.com” was registered in September 2012. The “winner’s” photos were posted to Facebook in July 2012. She should be enjoying a year’s reign that includes modeling, photo shoots, and public appearances but I can’t find anything online. According to the pageant rules, the reigning Ms Fabulous crowns her successor but a blogger has posted that during the course of a phone conversation with the organizer, she was invited to crown the winner this year. If the focus of the pageant is to educate the public and publicize the accomplishments of people who have WLS, we haven’t heard a peep from the 2012 winner.
A non-profit organization should be putting great emphasis on whatever is their particular service. The “scholarships” offered by this non-profit Fabulous Foundation appear to amount to little more than a few thousand dollars total. They are awarded to “integrated health care professionals” only for certain continuing education programs. It’s really moot anyway. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is tomorrow and that appears to be it for the year.
I urge you to consider carefully if you really want to give $97 to $199 to this organization to join this pageant. Keep in mind that if you’re chosen a Semi-Finalist—and I have a feeling almost everyone who enters will be—you’ll be hit up for as much as $6600 to compete. We really don’t know what the “prizes” are going to be. It’s possible the winner would be expected to pay their own expenses for personal appearances. There are no known sponsors affiliated with this event and the major WLS organizations have not volunteered their endorsement or participation. At least not yet. And of course, we’re not even sure what date the pageant is going to be held, if it is.
If you are driven by an interest in promoting WLS achievement and visibility, consider carefully if the Fabulous Foundation is the organization best suited to do that. Please consider instead to spend your money becoming a member of the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America or the Obesity Action Coalition. You’ll know exactly where your money is going and how it will be spent. If you have a need to be a visible member of the community, then let these organizations know you’d like to volunteer and I’m sure they’d welcome your help.
If you could afford to gamble as much $6600 to take a shot at becoming a pageant king or queen, won’t you consider how much that money could do, donated to the WLSFA or the OAC? The 204 finalists will pay over $1.3MM to spend an evening prancing on a catwalk and hoping to wear a crown. Four winners will get modeling contracts and maybe make public appearances. Consider for a moment how many surgeries the WLSFA could pay for with $1,346,400. I’m asking you to give that serious thought. Thanks.