Not me, not this and certainly not at this age...so I thought. Hi! I’m Stephanie Welter, and I was just awarded the honor of Mrs. Minnesota International, 2017! It feels like a dream. I never thought in my mid forties I would be entering and winning a state pageant and moving on to an international event! I learned about the International Pageant system a few years ago, but it wasn’t until November, 2016 that I decided to go ahead and take the leap into this amazing adventure, and I’m SO glad I did...but not before praying first.
A good friend of mine who is a former title holder encouraged me take the leap, telling me she had a sense that it would be worth my while. As I prayed about this journey and spoke to my husband and kids about it, a scripture verse kept coming to my mind “....and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Es. 4:14.
My platform is Understanding the Puzzle of Autism, “for such a time as this.” A time in our history when 1 in 68 children are being diagnosed each year with this neurological and developmental disorder ( 1 in 54 in Minnesota), including my precious son Benjamin.
Autism is referred to as a “puzzle” because because we don’t know yet why so many kids are being diagnosed these days. Researchers are looking at biological, environmental and genetic factors but don’t yet have have all the answers. With this many individuals being diagnosed, one thing is for certain, we need to keep searching. We need answers. Our kids deserve them. Most importantly for now, kids that are being diagnosed need early intervention and therapies so they can lead full, happy lives.
As Mrs. Minnesota International I am partnering with The MAC Schools to be sure children are getting early diagnosis and early intervention. For older kids, we have already begun the process of launching a Life Development Program for young adults 18-21 so they can continue on with job skills assessment and training, living skills (personal care, self care, home care) and ongoing educational opportunities like college classes!
I am beyond grateful, beyond excited and ready for the job!
I can’t WAIT to tell you about my family….but that will have to wait until next week’s post! ;-)
Stephanie Kay Welter
Mrs. Minnesota International, 2017