Jan 12, 2013 4:15 PM by Tara Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On Saturday, Cut Bank resident Alexis Wineman will take the stage in the Miss America Pageant, but for now she is hoping to garner enough votes online to become a finalist in the contest.
In the Miss America online video contest, Wineman explained why she feels she should be the next Miss America.
Wineman's platform issue, titled "Normal is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism," focuses on her life since she was diagnosed with a form of it in 7th grade. She said she hopes to bring national awareness to it.
"Most people do not understand what autism is, and one in 88 people having some form of autism, this understanding is becoming more and more necessary," Wineman said in the video.
Wineman is also keeping friends, family and fans up to date on her Facebook page, where she said she has enjoyed walking the runway at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas and making appearances at various events.
She has also been chosen as one of 14 contestants to be featured on the show "20/20.
Alexis says that her mission as Miss Montana is to spread autism awareness because she says it's not autism that defines her, but rather, she defines it.
Alexis noted, "I think by spreading the message that everyone's different, whether they're autistic or not, it not only spreads autism acceptance, but a universal acceptance."
During an appearance at CMR High School in Great Falls in November, Wineman told hundreds of students how just a few years back, she was the kid in the corner staying silent because of her speech impediment.
But since then she's grown her confidence in herself, and she says she never dreamed she'd hang up her running shoes for a different pair - high heels.
Click here to see her video and cast your vote.