Yesterday, something amazing happened (all while I was sick in bed, no less!)
The One in 68 Foundation, an organization I founded, was able to step in and make a contribution to help save from cancellation a holiday sensory-friendly dance held by the Miss Abilities Organization in Winchester- an organization I’ve partnered with as a titleholder to empower young women with disabilities.
Being able to make a difference like was incredible to me. It felt amazing to be able to do good- to turn my passion for helping students on the spectrum into real, concrete results. Don’t get me wrong- as a speaker, I’m able to impact lives. I’m able to show those I speak to possibility, hope and the impact of faith- but I always felt the pull to do more.
When I started the foundation, I put money made on selling used pageant clothes on Poshmark into the foundation- because of the Miss Virginia organization and the scholarships I earned competing last year that I am going to put toward law school (it’s not cheap- even with a merit scholarship!), I was able to contribute the majority of my Poshmark earnings to the work I wanted to do for students on the spectrum. And today, I was able to make a real, quantifiable difference.
Three years ago, competing in my very first local with a platform I felt ashamed to speak about, I would never have imagined that this organization would give me the drive, the connections, the tools and the financial ability to make a real difference in the lives of students on the spectrum. I was ashamed of what Autism meant for me, for my past and my future. I hated even speaking about it- hated living it. I abhorred the idea of competing as “the autistic girl”. I wanted, more than anything else, to be as normal as I could possibly be. To fulfill some false idea of perfection. I prayed and prayed and prayed day in and day out to be transformed into my idea of ideal- not realizing that in God’s eyes, I was already perfection. HE made me in his image exactly as he intended me to be- just like he made you- and every single one of his children.
My journey in the Miss Virginia Organization started with a desire to fulfill a childhood dream of representing my home state as Miss Virginia. Although I still possess that dream and work fervently to accomplish it, my passion is now also for something much larger- a newfound desire to create not only a change in the perceptions surrounding Autism but in the lives of students with Autism.
So trust in your journey. Don’t be afraid to come face to face with the crazy pitfalls and roadbumps. Don’t be scared to embrace the unknown- to go in a direction you never, ever, ever imagined you would go down. To trust in God’s grace unconditionally and know that HE knows your destination- even if at times, the path there is unpredictable and terrifying.
Yours in Grace,