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news News Tuesday, August 28, 2018 Tuesday, August 28, 2018 12:06 PM - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 12:06 PM

Autumn spreading hope "one ability at a time"

Autumn spreading hope "one ability at a time"

Autumn on stageBillboards in Times Square. Dozens of magazine appearances. Runway shows. Cover shoots. Fashion Week in New York and New Orleans. An ever-expanding portfolio of modeling gigs and speaking engagements. To the casual observer, the accomplishments read as a wish list for up-and-coming young models. For Autumn Kinkade and mother Dawn, however, it’s simply the new normal.

Before walking the runways at fashion events across the country, Autumn walked the hallways of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Shreveport. She was born weighing only 1 pound, 12 ounces. When she was 10, her family first brought her from their home in Adair, Oklahoma, to the Shreveport Shriners Hospital for treatment relating to cerebral palsy, which included more than a dozen surgical procedures over seven years of care. Physicians at the Shreveport Shriners Hospital lengthened muscles in Autumn’s legs, transferred tendons to improve the flex of her knees, and performed procedures to help better align her ankles and feet.

In 2014, Autumn participated in the Oklahoma Miss Amazing Pageant, a nationwide initiative designed to help build self-esteem and confidence in young ladies with disabilities. She was crowned Miss Oklahoma Junior Teen, a title that helped lead her into the world of pageantry and modeling. While earning a national title at the Today’s International Woman Pageant – Elegant Teen, Autumn caught the attention of emcee Victoria Henley of America’s Next Top Model. With Henley as a mentor, the two began traveling the country, taking part in runway shows and photo shoots.

These days, Autumn and mother Dawn are perpetually traveling to runway shows, modeling shoots, pageants and fashion events. Autumn currently serves as a VIP for modeling/pageant publication Supermodels Unlimited, a distinction that earned her a billboard image in Times Square. She was also recently featured in Seventeen as part of the publication’s "Perfectly Me" section. While taking much of her newfound exposure in stride, Autumn noted the appeal of serving as a role model to those who face obstacles of their own.

“It is definitely fulfilling knowing that I can make a difference wherever I go,” she said. “Even if people simply see me in a magazine, they can see that the potential is there for them as well.”

Despite her demanding schedule, Autumn recently graduated from high school a year early, and ultimately plans to become a pastor. Now 18, she has added motivational speaking to her list of passions, and speaks openly about the role her physical challenges have played in shaping her outlook on life.

“I encourage people to make a difference ‘one ability at a time,' ” she said. “I believe we are all put on this earth to make a difference, and if we combine our abilities and celebrate them, we can turn hardships into good and give people hope.”

Autumn featured in Seventeen magazine