Spreading awareness to a bigger audience

Local News

A local college student is going above and beyond to improve the lives of people with disabilities – and their families, too.
And she’s doing it because it improves her life as well.

18-year-old Caitlyn Vogel will be competing for the 2019 Miss North Dakota Teen USA title this weekend.

But she’s not doing it for just the title. Vogel decided to join the pageant world to reach a bigger audience and teach them about something that’s near and dear to her heart.

“It’s just who I am,” Vogel said. “I feel like it’s what my life revolves around and I’m more than happy for that.”

She’s a helper of others .. an advocate .. a role model .. and perhaps most importantly, a friend.

Since finding a best friend with down syndrome in the fifth grade, her life changed.
Now she wants to be able to change other lives, too.

“We consider her a true gift,” Kevin Burckhard said. “She does seem to have a lot of connection with kids that have an extra chromosome.”

Burckhard has four kids with down syndrome and says Vogel has gone the extra mile for his family since day one.

He said, “Our kids know that when Caitlyn’s around, something fun is going to happen.”

Just this year she coordinated a fashion show for girls of the Dream Catchers baseball team, a league for kids with special needs.
More than 500 people went.

She also established a clothing line for girls with disabilities, designed to fit the right way and give them more independence when getting dressed.

So what makes her so dedicated?
“I feel like everyone can learn something from them, said Vogel. “So I’m trying to show more people and change more perspectives like mine was changed.”

And she’s already doing that. One example is something as simple as a slumber party.
“It kind of hit us,” Burckhard said. “Here with have this 17 year old girl at the time and a 12 year old girl and they’ve never had a sleepover other than at Grandma’s house. And that night, they were living the dream at Caitlyn’s.”

Vogel said she wants to use the pageant as a platform to spread awareness on the world of disabilities and special needs.

Plus, scholarship money could help her towards her dream of becoming an OBGYN who specializes in mental and physical disabilities. She’d be an advocate for babies in the womb and support the parents along the way.

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