DSC News

Spotlight On: Raechel Benson

Spotlight On: Raechel Benson

We are so proud that DSC member, Raechel Benson, will be participating in the Miss Washington Teen USA Pageant later this month where she will be the first participant to have Down syndrome. We interviewed Raechel to learn more about her favorite DSC events, her passions, and why she is participating in this year’s Miss Washington Teen USA Pageant.

How have you been involved with the DSC? What are your favorite events?
My absolute favorite event has been the Down Syndrome Community’s Fashion Show, which I participated in four times. I also enjoy the talent show, Sweetheart Dance, and Buddy Walk.

Tell us about your passion for fashion, acting, and singing.
I really want to become a fashion designer.  I like being creative, I love putting outfits together and I draw dresses daily. I took some sewing lessons and hope to learn more.

Acting is fun, it lets me use my imagination, be on stage and be in character and costumes. I started participating in performances when I was in Kindergarten, I was in the school musical and was part of the Kindergarten dance number.  I loved participating in the Seattle Parks & Recreation talent show. Then I tried Broadway Bound and performed in Mama Mia – it was so fun! I took many classes at Seattle Children’s Theater and was really challenged when I auditioned and won the role of the Bride in the Brothers Grimm Summer Play. Finally, I took drama at Shorewood High School and auditioned for and won a part in the school musical, Legally Blonde. 

I sing every day and love listening to music! I have had two singing teachers, currently, I work with one on Zoom and we work on scales and perfecting how I say the words. I want to learn how to play the guitar next.

What made you want to participate in the Miss Washington Teen USA Pageant?
I was attending a Zoom Meeting where Miss Washington USA 2020, Imani Blackmon was the guest speaker.  I emailed her to learn more about how to become Miss Washington USA because I love to model fashion and be on stage. She told me about the Miss Amazing Pageant. I discovered there wasn’t one in Washington so I decided to pursue the Miss Washington Teen USA Pageant.

Tell us about the Pageant and what you will be doing.
The Pageant will be in Wilsonville, Oregon on November 22nd.  To get in, I had to have an interview with the Pageant management to determine if I met their qualifications. They told me I’m going to make history because they’ve never had a participant who has Down syndrome. There will be another set of interviews on November 15th where I am required to wear a business suit and meet with the judges for about 3 minutes over Zoom. Then there will be a preliminary show where we will model pageant t-shirts with white pants, then exercise wear and then our full length gowns – mine is beautiful! The top 11 will be selected to go forward to the finals, which will be held in the evening.

Tell us about your goal to start a Miss Amazing Program in Washington.
 I want to use my experience to help other kids with Down Syndrome to participate in pageants.

What does inclusion mean to you?
When I’m included, it makes me feel challenged, strong, and, successful.  Being included allows me to do anything I want. I want everyone with disabilities to have the opportunity to feel that way.

Photographer credits:

  1. Nikki Closser – Princess Picture
  2. Alyssa Rose – Human Kind and flower dress photos