A year ago I wrote an article about 8 Inspiring Women Who’ve Used Their Pageant Platforms to Spread Autism Awareness. These individuals have included the first woman with autism to ever compete in the Miss America pageant in former Miss Montana Alexis Wineman and former Miss Florida Collegiate America Rachel Barcellona who was diagnosed with autism as a child.

The list doesn’t stop there. One of my closest friends in former Miss Raleigh USA Marcie Trivette has a brother on the autism spectrum and has become a huge supporter for autism legislation and advocacy. Former Miss Kansas USA Audrey Banach who I was able to do a Q&A with a few years ago shared with she has volunteered with Autism Speaks, become an autism advocate and wanting to get involved more with the cause because of her cousin who was diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Since then I’ve been blown away to see the continued support of the pageant world in getting involved in our autism community. I’ve recently learned in addition to the names above that Miss Nevada Bailey Gumm and Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt both have platforms focused on autism.

Bailey, who has become one of my dear friends gave a TEDxTalk last year on the importance of siblings in the autism community. She has firsthand experience in this area with her brother who is on the autism spectrum. Her passion for her brother and to be an autism advocate is inspiring.

Rachel on the other hand has volunteered her time towards schools with children with autism in her area. The fact that these two are representing their states and spreading awareness for a cause near and dear to my heart has been phenomenal to see.

The support that these young women give should be admired. Not only that but as role models to countless others in her states they can spread awareness motivated via their platforms to be a more inclusive and accepting world to all. Growing up on the spectrum, I can tell you words like ‘inclusive’ and ‘accepting’ would never be words I would use around the topic of autism. The ignorance can be overwhelming but years later we’ve certainly come a long way. These women play a part in that picture.

So now one of my hopes for the future is that I can continue to share stories like theirs whenever I go to speak to show what some people are capable of doing to make a positive impact. By the pageant world showing their support towards those with autism I hope we can use this as a domino effect to inspire more and more organizations to get involved. For people who are reading this who decide to compete in pageants in the future I hope you will see these individuals as role models of what you can bring to your perspective platform.

The more voices we have the more change we can bring. Well-done ladies!