Awesomely uplifting story coming out of the Miss America pageant: Alexis Wineman, a bubbly 18-year-old from Montana, was crowned Miss Montana today and will be competing for the Miss America title later this week. What makes this story truly heartwarming is that Alexis will be the first contestant with autism to compete in the pageant's history.
So who exactly is Alexis Wineman and how did she end up making it to the Superbowl of beauty pageants?
According to a vlog post she put up about herself she didn't actually enjoy pageants when she was younger. She said it was "all girly" and admitted that she never really envisioned herself on the pageant stage.
Alexis' childhood was not easy. In an interview with TODAY.com, Alexis admits to having issues growing up.
"I was wondering why I was different, why I couldn't make any friends, why I was bullied. I just keep asking myself, 'Why, why, why'?"
When Alexis was 11 she was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder and a borderline Asperger's syndrome. Although this was a serious diagnosis, it was a bit of a relief for Alexis. With a proper diagnosis she was able to learn techniques on how to deal with her disorders.
By the time she left high school she had made a complete 180 on her life. She was a cheerleader, member of the speech and drama teams and a cross country runner.
After she graduated, Alexis started to speak at schools and autism conventions across America. She also formed partnerships with Autism Speaks, Generation Rescue and AbilityPath.
Alexis will compete in the Miss America pageant on Saturday. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Alexis has announced that her talent at the show will be stand-up comedy.
Here is Alexis sitting on Santa's lap: