Texas Teen Wins Miss Dallas Pageant Despite Epilepsy

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Texas Teen Wins Miss Dallas Pageant Despite Epilepsy (3)

Alison Appleby, 17, of Sherman, Texas, says her seizure-alert dog Brady is her ‘support through everything.

Teen Alison Appleby of Sherman, Texas recently won the Miss Dallas Teen USA 2022 crown with her loyal service dog Brody by her side.

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A 17-year-old living with autism and epilepsy has achieved what she once thought was impossible by joining a pageant as a disabled person – and winning.

Appleby told Fox News Digital in an interview that the Oct. 9 win came as a complete “shock” because it was her first time competing in the pageant.

“I’ve never done it before,” she said.

“I bought my dress three days before the contest, so I had no idea what I was calling myself into.”

A newcomer to the competition, she said her overall goal was to be with her service dog and “show people that you can do it with a disability.”

Texas Teen Wins Miss Dallas Pageant Despite Epilepsy (10)

Texas Teen Wins Miss Dallas Pageant Despite Epilepsy

“I was still scared the whole time … but having Brady by my side made it a lot easier,” she said.

“He is my support for everything.”

At the crowning ceremony, Appleby and Brady were both raised with crowns, although the golden retriever wasn’t a big fan of his new adornment – he tried to shake off the shiny headpiece as fast as feasible.

“When they crowned Brady, my heart sank — my heart just completely melted,” she said.

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“He didn’t like it at first, but he got used to it rather fast.”

Miss Dallas pageant director Jennifer Ortiz said in an interview with Fox News Digital that being crowned for both Appleby and Brady was an “amazing” knowledge.

 

“Alison really won the whole contest in the interview,” she said. “She was amazing — the way she spoke, Dallas was so clever, transmitted so much with our judges.”

“Dallas was an extraordinary woman all around.”

 

Ortiz, a 20-year pageant veteran, said after officials realized Appleby would be competing with her service dog, the pageant bought Appleby a small crown if she won.

“And if she doesn’t, my dog ​​will have a new Halloween costume this year,” Ortiz said with a laugh.

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Ortiz, of Dallas, who directed the pageant for the first time this year, said his focus is to be inclusive — and shared that Appleby’s win has already “opened a lot of doors.”

“To see someone come up and spread that awareness so much — and she’s been exceptional from the start — it’s heartwarming to see her crowned,” she said.

 

Appleby shared that she was “so thrilled to go” because competing in pageants seemed like an unattainable dream for her.

“It took me a few days to understand that I won, but I’m still in shock about it,” she said. “I didn’t expect this to happen.”

 

As someone with no prior competitive training, Appleby says her goal is to prove that having a disability “doesn’t mean you can’t chase your goals.”

“I always dreamed of being a pageant girl, but I never felt like I could do it,” she said.

Texas Teen Wins Miss Dallas Pageant Despite Epilepsy (10)

Texas Teen Wins Miss Dallas Pageant Despite Epilepsy

“The judges didn’t let my disability change how they saw me — they judged me as a person.”

For parents of with special needs looking to compete, Ortiz encouraged them to give it a try.

“I think we all have an inner strength — and that shines through sometimes, no matter what restrictions you have.”

Appleby’s message to other young people with disabilities is to “assume it.”

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“Don’t let your setbacks make you give up on your dreams,” she says.

“You can do it – and you can succeed.”

She also said, “You don’t have to give up on life just because you’re sick.”

Appleby described living with disabilities as “tough” after she was misdiagnosed for 16 years.

At age 2, Appleby was analyzed with autism, though her seizures were mistaken for anxiety — and she was often accused of using drugs at school, she said.

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“I have focal seizures or absence seizures, so I’m staring into space,” she described.

“Sometimes I speak and it feels like I’m speaking a different language, but to me, it feels completely normal.”

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