Burlington, Iowa, native Mariah Cary is Miss Iowa 2012. She’ll be competing on January 12 at the Theatre for the Performing Arts in Paradise, Nevada, for the title of Miss America 2013 at the famed and acclaimed Miss America Pageant. What makes Cary unique is her platform.
Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome — a misunderstood, misdiagnosed, inherited neurological disorder — at a young age, Cary has stuck to her roots and made Tourette Syndrome her platform. As part of that, Cary has started blogging for Teens4TS — a blog for teenagers with TS and associated disorders such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety, depression and Asperger’s Syndrome that is maintained by the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders.
What follows is Cary’s initial entry on Teens4TS, which can be read by visiting http://www.njcts.org/teens4ts:
“Hey all! I’m Miss Iowa 2012 and I have Tourette Syndrome, too! I was honored to be contacted to blog with all of you and share my struggles and advice, so hope it helps.
“When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with TS, and this was not something I have spoken about my entire life. Because I was so ashamed of myself and struggled with self-esteem issues and bullying for so long, this was not a subject I was comfortable with.
“However, as I got older, I was so inspired by the Miss America organization that I took a huge leap and refused to hide myself anymore. TS is now something I have shared with thousands of people. TS hasbeen a part of my life for more than 12 years, and it’s an struggle I can relate to 100 percent.
“The best part about it is that it not only allows me reach out to children with TS, but also children who are facing an adversity in any way — and at some point in our lives, we all face challenges.
“Growing up with TS certainly can make you stand out a little more than others. I know how it feels to have teachers tell me ‘stop doing that!’ or have your peers laugh and make fun of you because you cant stop ‘ticcing.’
“The best piece of advice I have ever been given was to accept myself. I learned very quickly that once I embrace myself and everything I embody, then others will begin to do the same.
“This is just a small part of everything I have to say, so I will continue to contribute blog posts, and thank you all for providing so much insight into TS! Feel free to ask any questions you may have! Together, we can!”