Her name is Christina Beard, and she’s currently a freshman at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Christina is the individual who heard about the Rolling Café at Truman Elementary, filmed the video and submitted it for entry in the 2017 UCT Gives Back AGAIN to Schools video contest – and won! In 2013, Christina was also a student at Eldon High School in Eldon, Missouri – the school that won the 2013 UCT Gives Back AGAIN to Schools video contest. To say Christina is motivated to help a good cause is an understatement. With a demanding college schedule, Christina can still find the time to help others, make a difference, and educate others. Here’s her story…
“I’m currently a freshman at Drury University majoring in Music Therapy. I had helped with the Eldon Mustang Cookie Company video which happened to win 1st place in 2013. Shelly Henderson who teaches digital media at Eldon Career Center is who introduced the contest to me. I was truly honored to help with the video.
I started working with the non-profit Stars for Autism in August 2016 as their University Ambassador. This organization is how I met Elizabeth Obrey, a mother of one of the students at Truman Elementary. I discussed my hopes and dreams as an autism advocate with the board. I had also mentioned the Mustang Cookie Company and the contest to them. I knew I wanted to do it again so I asked if there’s a school in the Springfield area we could showcase. So Elizabeth gave me Jean Lawson’s email where I actually reached out to her in January to meet and see what the Rolling Café is all about and if it was a good fit for the contest. I began videoing in February in between my classes which I was actually taking 19 credit hours. I entered the video and prayed for the best. I was actually really nervous because I wasn’t sure if the video would win or not since I didn’t have as much time as the last time.
When I received the call that the winner wasn’t going to be picked through social media and it was rather picked through a panel of judges, it really made me more nervous. But I will never forget when I received the call from Jen Szymczak on March 31st letting me know that the video won! I truly was in shock and disbelief and still am today! So I decided I would print the confirmation email and put it in an envelope and head to Truman Elementary and surprise everyone. I just simply handed Ms. Lawson the envelope and didn’t say anything. I loved seeing her reaction to it.
The next step was the presentation and that day I don’t how many times I cried before and after it was over because it was reality. I had truly made a difference in the community and in these children’s lives. I will also never forget these two girls who came up and hugged me afterwards and said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” That moment I realized I had made an impact, which is why I do what I do.
I’m a former Miss Mid-Missouri Outstanding Teen 2015. My dream is to become Miss America and my platform is See the Able Not the Label – Autism Awareness. But as of now I do not have a title and I’m not currently competing. Even without a crown I am promoting education, acceptance, and awareness of autism.
My brother, Brian at the age of three was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) – a form of autism. As a sibling I have seen and experienced firsthand the “consequences” of this condition. So my goal is to help educate people of all ages and bring acceptance and awareness to this condition as 1 in 68 are being diagnosed today. It is so prevalent in our society today yet most people don’t know what it means.
This video has touched many lives and I simply did this video contest out of the goodness of my heart and not for the glory. I really am grateful for UCT and all it does for the communities in the United States and Canada because it truly goes a long way.
Just doing what I love.”