TAMPA (CBSMiami/AP) — For the first time in the history of the Miss Florida pageant, a woman with autism will compete.
Rachel Barcellona, from Tampa Bay, said doctors told her she’d never graduate from high school because of her diagnosis. She says the negative feedback didn’t sit well with her.READ MORE: Seminoles Suspend Sports Betting After Court Rulings
Barcellona began participating in pageants at age 5. She continued through much of elementary school and then quit. But she says the depression and anxiety she suffered in middle school led her back to the pageant world, where she gained confidence and made friends.READ MORE: Pembroke Pines Police: 1 Killed, 1 Injured In Single-Vehicle Crash
She says when judges ask about her disability she tells them she can inspire people.MORE NEWS: Professors Seek Injunction Against UF Policy
The Miss Florida contest will be held later this month in Lakeland.