Miss USA Contestant Talks Pageant, Passion for Autism Awareness

Audrey Banach, Miss Kansas USA 2014, is an Autism Speaks volunteer who will be competing for the title of Miss USA 2014 on June 8th at The Baton Rogue River Center in Louisiana. Earlier this month she wrote a blog for our website on what autism means to her.

Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro asked Audrey about her upcoming pageant and her involvement in the autism community.

Hey Audrey! Can you tell us how you got involved with the pageant circuit?

I got involved in pageantry with the encouragement of my mom. My mom, Margie Banach, actually competed in Miss Iowa USA in the 1980's and won Miss Congeniality. Miss Kansas USA 2014 was my first pageant I've ever competed in and it was such an awesome experience! I'm so glad that I made the choice to participate in pageants. 

When did you first know you wanted to get involved with Autism Speaks?

I first knew that I wanted to get involved with Autism Speaks when my own family was touched by the cause. I had been working with Autism Speaks for about a year when my younger cousin was diagnosed with Asperger's. Finding out about Jared's diagnosis made working with Autism Speaks much more meaningfu, and gave me deep personal ties to the cause. 

Recently, Alpha Xi Delta celebrated their 5th year anniversary as an Autism Speaks philanthropic partner. How has it been being a sister for this sorority and giving back to the cause?

Working with Alpha Xi Delta to support Autism Speaks has been amazing! I've been able to work with the Kansas State University Chapter for the past four years, and we're the highest grossing philanthropic group on K-State's campus. Alpha Xi Delta truly cares about the cause and Autism Speaks has enriched all our lives. Being able to work with friends and families and having the opportunity to be immersed within Autism Speaks has been life changing. Not only have we become more aware, but we've been able to provide support and a community for those touched by autism. 

What would you say is the one thing you've enjoyed most about volunteering with Autism Speaks?

The one thing that I've enjoyed most about volunteering with Autism Speaks is the community that the organization has created for support and relationships. Families are able to engage in communication, friendship and community within Autism Speaks and it's been truly amazing to see the changes that happen with support and encouragement. 

You will be competing for the Miss USA 2014 crown this Sunday. What can our community do to help you on the big day? 

The best ways the Autism Speaks community can help are to follow me on my social media outlets below and have fun watching the big show! I couldn't do any of this without the support of others around me, thank you! 

You can watch Audrey compete for the Miss USA 2014 crown this Sunday on NBC at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT. Make sure to wish Audrey luck on Facebook, Twitterher website and Instagram @realmissksusa2014!