A beauty queen who was born with one arm breaks out of the pageant mold as she uses her title to raise awareness and encourage children with disabilities to pursue their dreams.
Nicole Kelly, 23, of Davenport, Iowa, was crowned Miss Iowa and represented her state in last year’s Miss America pageant, the Huffington Post reports.
"The reason I'm here is not because I'm a public interest story," she said back in September. "I'm here not because I look different but because I have the intelligence, I have the ability and all the things that Miss America needs to have.”
Kelly graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2012 having majored in theater, Metro reports.
“As I grew up I learned to counterbalance the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give into no,” she wrote in her official Miss Iowa biography.
Before participating in the the pageant last June, Kelly was an intern on Broadway in New York City where she hopes to become a stage manager.
Kelly launched a campaign called “The Power of One” to encourage people to embrace their differences, and meets parents of children with disabilities.
“Meeting the parents of amputee and physically differently-abled children has been a shocking experience at times,” she said. “I had assumed everyone else’s parents would be like mine, but many are far more concerned about limiting their child’s lives to protect them from harm. I saw then that I could make a change by showing these parents that their child can and should be able to do anything they want.”