BLACKFOOT — In the first of what will be several fundraisers and performances, the eight young women who hope to be crowned Snake River’s Distinguished Young Woman on March 30 gathered at Tommy Vaughn’s Restaurant to wait on tables and act as bus people Wednesday night.

“The goal is to match last year’s total money raised, which was around $1,000,” Marci VanOrden said. “These girls are all so talented and dedicated and also very deserving of the honor they seek. They are all putting it out there with their talents and dedication.”

The eight young ladies — Charity Atkinson, Hannah Higginson, Olivia Kracl, Jess Preston, Zoey Secrist, Elizabeth Wada, McKayleigh Wasia and Bailey Werhli — were on hand Wednesday and they all seemed to be fully engaged in what they were doing.

They had ample help in the process, as some of Tommy Vaughn’s own wait staff was on hand to help out and make sure orders got placed and to the tables in the proper order and a timely manner.

A total of $13,000 was raised and awarded in scholarship money to last year’s Snake River Distinguished Young Women and the goal each year is to surpass the previous year’s allocation. A lofty goal, but one that these young women feel that they can achieve.

“Last year we stressed to each other to be the best version of ourself,” Tayte Baldwin said. “This year we are all stressing the same thing to each of these eight contestants. Just be the best version of yourself, focus on your fitness and scholastic ability, and cover all the bases with your interview process and of course the final night where the talent competition takes place.”

These eight girls all have a wide range of talents, from dancing to singing to musical instruments and beyond. Past competitions have even had girls bring a basketball and dribble onto the stage and demonstrate the proper way to shoot and dribble.

The DYW has evolved over the years, originally starting as the Junior Miss competition. It has transformed from just a talent contest into much more in this era.

In Bingham County, Snake River High School and Blackfoot High School will have their own Distinguished Young Women’s competition, but that is not the case in other areas. Firth High School and Shelley High School will combine and have just one competition, while the Pocatello area will combine all three high schools into one competition and the Idaho Falls area will combine all of the high schools in their area into a single competition as well.