She will be the first contestant with autism to compete in Miss Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay woman is about to make history as the first person with autism to compete in Miss Florida.

The competition will be held in Lakeland later in June.

"I was basically promised that I would never graduate any school really or have any friends. Pretty much everything bad was going to happen to me because I have autism," said Rachel Barcellona.

The negative feedback didn't sit well with Rachel or her family, especially her mother.

"She was like I will be dead before that happens. So I wouldn't be anywhere without my mom who is a nurse practitioner and she is just wonderful, I love her," said Barcellona.

Barcellona began strutting across the stage when she was five. She waved and competed in pageants until fourth grade, then took a break. . .

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