AUDREY TABOR has never been afraid of the spotlight. She would have joined the cheerleading team before she started at Hillcrest High School, but her middle school, Sudie TAG, didn’t offer that opportunity. And after she met Miss Dallas and Miss Dallas Teen and was encouraged by other contestants, the ninth-grader didn’t hesitate to sign up for a pageant. 

The Miss Dallas Teen competition, held at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, was Tabor’s first pageant.

“I like being in front of people, and I really like the evening wear,” Tabor says. “It’s one of my favorite parts.”

She spent months preparing for the competition. Her pageant coach taught her how to sit, walk and answer interview questions. And of course, she had to do some wardrobe shopping. 

Though she was excited for the glam and ambience of it all, she had another more serious motivation in mind: spreading awareness of muscular dystrophy.  

Tabor has MD, a condition that has no known cure, and she’s intent on informing people about it. In the past, she was an ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for about a year and a half. That role allowed her to attend fundraisers and other events to talk about her experience with the disease — everything from her diagnosis at age 8 to the limitations it causes. 

Even with preparation and previous experience speaking in front of crowds, Tabor’s confidence at the pageant was shaky. “I was super nervous for everything, and I felt like I forgot to breathe,” she says. 

But during rehearsal time, when the contestants ran through the different events, she received some advice from the other girls. 

“They said, ‘Don’t be nervous. There’s no reason to be nervous. The interview is just like having a conversation with the judges,’ which is really how it was,” Tabor says.

During the two-minute interview, Tabor answered questions about colleges and careers that interested her, coaching the Sparkman Club Estates swim team over the summer and working as a Muscular Dystrophy Association ambassador.

In addition to getting tips from the other contestants during breaks in rehearsals, Tabor used the time to raise awareness of MD by talking with the girls and answering their questions.

Tabor finished among the top 10 contestants in the Miss Dallas Teen pageant, and she was invited to participate in Miss Texas USA next summer. In the meantime, she is hoping to take part in at least one more pageant.

Signing up for a pageant wasn’t the first time Tabor decided to try something new. An International Baccalaureate student at Hillcrest, she learned how to play several instruments: acoustic and electric guitars, the ukulele, drums and the piano. She taught herself how to sew. And she created shops on Etsy to sell slime and jewelry.

“She gets bored easy,” Audrey’s mom, Amanda Tabor, says. “And she’s just one of those kids that loves being around people, loves learning things, loves doing new things, trying out stuff.”