Marcie Trivette wears many hats but one of her biggest accomplishments has been her becoming a champion for our autism community. An alumna of Appalachian State University, Marcie recently held the title of Miss Raleigh USA 2014. With this honor, she decided to be a strong advocate for the autism community by making this her personal platform in the pageant circuit. Trivette has proven to be much more than a “pageant girl”. In the past she has broadcasted for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, obtained a key to the city of Concord, NC, for her volunteer work, sang on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, TN, and not to mention she’s the sister to three brothers ages 11, 17, and 31.
We recently caught up with Marcie to hear about what she’s doing today…
Hey Marcie! First off, can you tell our readers how you got involved with the autism community?
My younger brother, Karsten, was misdiagnosed for years when he was little. At the age of 10, they diagnosed him with high-functioning autism. With this, I began doing my own research and outreach to find out more about it. My mom had Karsten placed with a therapist who specializes in ABA therapy. He was also prescribed medication to help him sleep through the night, so that he would have better focus during the day and in essence make it through the school days a little easier.
After just one year of this treatment, I witnessed my younger brother do a complete 180. He went from making terrible grades, being shy, and having little to no friends… to be being a competitive football and golf player, making A & B honor-roll, and being a social butterfly. Organizations like the Autism Society of North Carolina and Autism Speaks really helped my brother and the rest of my family embrace his differences. We now attend walks every year, go to various fundraisers, and have even hosted a few of our own just so that we can spread awareness.
Can you tell us more about your platform as Miss Raleigh USA and why you decided to get involved with the autism cause?
Autism Speaks was my personal platform as Miss Raleigh USA. Not to say that Autism Speaks is any better than all of the other organizations that I volunteer with, but Autism Speaks was the very first organization that reached out to my family when my brother was first diagnosed. This organization holds a special place close to our hearts. Throughout my year of being Miss Raleigh USA, I was amazed at how many people just randomly would come up to me and say “thank you” for advocating for this cause.
At appearances, I would often meet children on the spectrum and talk to their parents about how I could help. I was even invited to attend a fundraiser of one excited little girl named Zara, and was absolutely thrilled that I was able to meet her and her sweet family. It wasn’t long after her fundraiser that I found myself on a plane to NYC to speak at a gala about autism. And, not long after that… I found myself standing on the floor of the NC House of Representatives requesting them to pass the autism insurance bill. An hour later, it passed. It’s moments such as these that make me proud to wear the sash across my chest reading Miss Raleigh USA. Sure, I enjoy the make-up and getting to wear fancy gowns… but what really matters is making a difference in the lives of the people in my community.
What has been one of your events that you are most proud of attending/hosting as an autism advocate?
When I was a Senior at Appalachian State University, I along with the help of three of my colleagues, founded the first ever autism advocacy group in the high country of North Carolina, Autism Speaks U – Appalachian State University Chapter. That following year, as the alumni adviser of the chapter, I returned to the university for their very first 5K Run/3K Walk event. I have to say, I was impressed! There were hundreds of people that participated in the event and so many families were there with their children who are on the spectrum. To this day, I applaud Ashley (Crowder) Hughes for all of her hard work put forth to make that event happen. I remember standing at one of the tents and just looking at all of the people there, and at that moment I had tears in my eyes. My brother came to mind. Because of him, THIS happened. He inspired that entire movement. To this day the Appalachian State University – Autism Speaks U chapter thrives. The 5K Run/3K Walk has become a popular annual event that happens every April, and the surrounding community has really embraced the cause.
What would you tell someone about autism that has never heard of the term before to help educate and spread awareness?
I think Temple Grandin said it best, “Autism is a neurological disorder. It’s not caused by bad parenting. It’s caused by, you know, abnormal development in the brain. The emotional circuits in the brain are abnormal. And there also are differences in the white matter, which is the brain’s computer cables that hook up the different brain departments.” And if you don’t know who Temple Grandin is, please by all means…. google her. She’s simply amazing.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with siblings out there who has a brother and/or sister on the autism spectrum?
It’s ok to still be “siblings”… you’re still going to have arguments, joke around, and laugh with and sometimes even at each other. Having autism makes them different. Yes, but everyone is different in their own way. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about what autism is, so that you’re not completely left in the dark. Try to be understanding of their differences and respect them. But, above all this, love them the same way you would regardless of them with or without autism.
What’s next for you?
For me, there are a few changes in life around the corner. I’m no-longer on the “pageant diet” so I look forward to eating lots of Taco Bell! As always, I aim to enjoy every second of life, and I am continuing to stay involved with various autism advocacy organizations. As for competing in any other pageants, I haven’t put much thought into it. But I do know of one big event that is on my calendar…; I plan on attending my younger brother’s high school graduation in June of 2016!!
Any fun projects coming up?
Currently, I’m coaching swim lessons, and I even have some students who are on the spectrum! I also have several other things in the works but my lips are sealed for now because I don’t want to jinx myself. If you want to know more or follow along feel free to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat @ MarcieTrivette!
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