Rooting for Miss Iowa

Picture of a smiling Nicole with the text: Good luck Nicole!

Miss Iowa 2013

A few things you may not know about Nicole Kelly, the reigning Miss Iowa:

  • She’s only participated in two competitions, Miss Metro (the one that qualified her for the Miss Iowa competition) and then Miss Iowa.
  • Nicole is 23 years old.
  • She graduated from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Directing and theatre Management.
  • In Fall of 2012 she did an internship in New York City with Manhattan Theatre Club.
  • She interned with the Goodman Theatre here in Chicago right after that.
  • And then, earlier this year, she was hired as Child Guardian on the Tony-nominated Broadway play The Assembled Parties.
  • She is a striking, slender blonde with blue eyes.

Oh. Wait. I forgot one thing. Nicole Kelly was born without a left forearm, too.

Shortly after winning the Miss Iowa contest, Nicole Kelly decided only to respond to interview requests from Iowa news outlets. Previous Miss Iowa winners only got attention from Iowa media (not from national markets), so why should she be any different? “One of the reasons I’m doing this is to prove that people with disabilities are just like everybody else, and they can accomplish things just like everybody else,” she said in a story that came out in USA Today explaining her decision to avoid national interviews for a while. “I’m going to be just like any other Miss Iowa and do the best I can to represent our great state.”

Starting in September, all Miss America contestants are required to respond to national and international media requests, so you might be seeing a lot more of Nicole Kelly this week before Sunday’s Miss America competition. My guess is that Miss Iowa will be telling a lot of reporters that her missing arm is not the most interesting thing about her. Here’s what she told that USA Today reporter who asked about her missing left hand and forearm after she won the Miss Iowa competition earlier this year:

“I had good parents,” she said. “I had good experiences growing up in Keokuk. Nobody ever made fun of me. They asked questions. They were curious. I liked that. I liked talking to people. Pretty soon people forgot about it, and they were just talking to me.”

This Sunday Nicole will have the opportunity to tell the world what she’s been saying all along: “I’m just like everybody else.”

Easter Seals is sending a card to Nicole Kelly later this week to wish her our best, and we invite you to join us and add your name to our card by tonight (Friday, September 13, 2013), so we can send your best wishes along to Miss Iowa for this Sunday’s Miss America pageant, too.


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