Kenosha boy with autism wins multiple 'Sweetheart America' titles

NOW: Kenosha boy with autism wins multiple ’Sweetheart America’ titles

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58)--A little boy in Kenosha has made quite a name for himself. You might've heard of 11-year-old Jaxson Thomas, who, despite some health challenges, has been an active member in the community and has recently been crowned multiple titles in the Sweetheart America Pageant.

"It wasn't something for everyone, it was for your size zero, size two, perfect teeth, perfect hair, you know, and it's not like that anymore; there's plus-sized pageants, there's pageants that are specifically for people with special needs," Shel Parham said.

Parham is the director of the national pageants known as Sweethearts of America and she told CBS 58 Sunday Morning they encompass people of all shapes, sizes and ages."

"It's really important to be able to share that 'hey, I might be a little different, but I can still do this,'" she explained.

The annual event started in Kenosha back in 2017. Parham said that since then, it's expanded, and it now involves 16 different categories.

"We included boys this year for the first time," she added.

Parham said it's never too late or too early to try something new.

"The first pageant I ever did…I was 43 years old," Parham recalled. "I ended up in Georgia and won the national title that was with the Miss American Beauties pageant back in 2017."

She's encouraged many locals to participate, including a boy named Jaxson Thomas.

"It was fun, I made a lot of friends there," Thomas said. "I have autism, so sometimes I can't tell the whole story, mom can tell it but sometimes it's hard to remember."

In early May, Thomas won Mr. Sweetheart Kenosha, Mr. Sweetheart Wisconsin, and Mr. Sweetheart America.

"I'm just happy he likes to try things once," said his mother, Autumn Thomas. "Having autism and also having ADHD is not an easy thing; him even being on that stage for the hours that he was, that's accomplishment in its own."

Autumn told CBS 58 Sunday Morning that her baby boy has come a long way.

"Jaxson, I want to say about 3 years old, couldn't even talk," she said.

For Jaxson, school had been a difficult place to make friends.

"Always at the recess time, I always asked if I could play with somebody and they always gave me a glare," he said.

The 11-year-old's focus has shifted to community engagement. He said meeting periodically with the Kenosha Police Department has become a passion.

He hopes to motivate others--who, like him, may be a little different--to try something new.

"I wanted to show people that have disabilities that they can do anything they put their mind to," he said.

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