- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nicole Kelly was named Miss Iowa 2013 over the weekend, and the 23-year-old beauty queen now will head to the national stage for the Miss America contest. But the real news: Miss Kelly has only one arm.

“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 on the Iowa pageant site, the New York Post reported. “This means that I tried everything. From baseball, to dance, to diving — there is nothing I would not try. I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare: the stage.”

She was born without her left forearm and is planning to use her platform at the Miss America Pageant to speak about the importance of overcoming disabilities, the Post reported. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in May 2012.

“If you would have told me a year ago that ‘pageant queen’ was in my future, I would have laughed,” she wrote, as the Post reported. “Giving voice to a platform is a great honor and I am excited to continue my adventure of speaking out and touching lives.”