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Trainer’s son helps raise awareness of autism

Mavrick Benoscek, 13, wasn’t keen on participating in a pageant until he found out it was a fundraiser for autism and perhaps someday finding a cure or prevention.

“I really want some of that,” Mavrick said about preventing autism, which he was diagnosed with at age 3.

He was nonverbal and used to bang his head on the wall. Today, a decade later, Mavrick, a seventh-grader, is a pageant winner who has modeled formal wear, spoken on a stage using a microphone about his experience with autism, and performed a fitness routine that included basketball, a karate chop and a dance performance with moonwalking.

The Queens for Autism benefit pageant, a fundraiser for the Autism Society of Washington and Oregon, raised $3,000 for autism research during the May 24 event in Federal Way. Mavrick, the only male competitor, was named King for Autism, an honor that came with a crown, gift bag and trophy.

Before the performance, Mavrick got his first case of serious nerves.

“My leg was really jiggly and I felt like I was going to fall down,” he said.

Winning pageants runs in the Benoscek family. His mom, Stacy Benoscek, also competed and was named Mrs. Queen for Autism. In June she won National Classy and Petite Mrs. Queen in the Today’s American Woman Pageant in Greenville, South Carolina. The national pageant is for women of all sizes, abilities and ages “who want to use the crown to shine a light on what is important to them in their communities,” said spokeswoman Karly Rose.

Mavrick said once he got on stage, the nerves went away. He added it was a fun experience that he might try again next year.

“It won’t be so difficult next time,” he said. “I don’t want to feel wobbly again.”

The Queens for Autism pageant was started in 2013 by a Vancouver, Washington, teenager whose younger brother has autism.

“The pageant is not only a fundraiser to help children with autism, but it also gives competitors the opportunity to develop public speaking skills, poise and self- confidence,” Director Cheyanne Garcia wrote on the Queens for Autism website. “It allows others to work right alongside me and see what children with autism go through every day.”

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