MS UCEDD TRIAD Service AmeriCorps Member Captures 'Miss Amazing' Title During Mississippi Pageant

August 15, 2013

One definition of the word amazing is "surprisingly great." That is a perfect way to describe Racheal Barnes . . . surprisingly great.

On May 27, Rachel Barnes walked away with a title befitting that description when she was named Miss Amazing for the State of Mississippi at the Petal Community Center. She won the Miss category that recognizes young adults ages 24 - 27.

Winning the distinction of Miss Amazing is not what makes this young woman so amazing. Her abilities far exceed any one category. One of those qualities is her willingness to serve others.

Barnes is participating in her second year on national service as a member of the TRIAD Service AmeriCorps Program which is component of the Institute of Disability Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi. Training, Resources and Information for the Advancement of Disability (TRIAD) Service AmeriCorps is an inclusive service program through the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service. TRIAD Service AmeriCorps focuses on assisting students with disabilities in the transition to adulthood.

This transition includes national service, employment, postsecondary education, adult healthcare services and more. Barnes is one of the stars of several disability education skits and has shared her personal story to hundreds of youth with disabilities. Most recently, she was the introductory speaker when the TRIAD Service AmeriCorps members were the featured speakers at the 2013 disAbility MegaConference in June.

Barnes, who lives in Petal, Miss., demonstrates her compassion for others with a willingness to volunteer. She currently volunteers three times a week at the Petal YMCA. She assists the front desk staff with lots of activities, most notably serving as a hostess to those using YMCA services.

Her giving nature was noted by the YMCA staff who wanted to give back to her. On June 21, a "Fit for a Queen" event was held to raise funds for the National Miss Amazing Pageant August 28-31 in Omaha, Neb. Barnes signed autographs, hosted a silent auction and was the featured guest of a two-hour sweatfest.

Barnes plans to represent Mississippi well at the national pageant and hopes to impact her home state. And she has a special message to share with others: anyone can accomplish anything. "I want others to know they can reach their dreams too. They can be amazing."

The Miss Amazing Pageant is a program that gives girls and young women with disabilities the opportunity to build self-confidence in a supportive environment. The first Miss Amazing Pageant was held in Nebraska in 2007.

The pageant, coordinated by Jordan Solmer, was established to share the pageant experience with girls who have disabilities and to give back to the community, primarily through food drives. Since that time, the pageant has expanded to more than 20 states including Mississippi.

At this time, Barnes is scheduling local and state events to promote the Miss Amazing Pageant and her message. Anyone wishing to have Miss Amazing appear at a local event, should contact her at [email protected].