As Miss Iowa 2013, Nicole Kelly travels all over and speaks to a variety of audiences about her platform, which is overcoming disabilities.
Kelly was born without her left forearm and as she grew up she chose to meet the stares and extra attention she received from people with an outgoing personality and a “never say no” attitude.
Last Thursday, Nov. 14, Kelly traveled to Argyle School District and spoke to both the elementary school and the middle and high schools about how people can look different and still be just like everyone else and do the things that everyone else does.
Kelly spoke to the elementary students for about an hour using references to Nemo, a popular character from Pixar’s animated movie Finding Nemo in which the clown fish has a “lucky fin” that is smaller than the other one, but doesn’t hold him back at all.
In that audience of elementary students was one little girl, who could relate to Kelly’s story a little bit more than the rest of her classmates. Lindsey Connors, a nine-year-old 4th grader in Argyle was also born with just one hand.
The school’s administration had kept Kelly’s visit a secret until the day she spoke to the students, so Lindsey had no idea she was coming.
After Kelly spoke to Argyle’s middle and high school students and posed for pictures with anyone who wanted one, she sat down for a little one-on-one chat with Lindsey, during which she let the fourth grader try on her sash and tiara.
“My having just one hand was just the way it was,” said Kelly. “I didn’t really think about it or talk about it all that much, until it became my job as Miss Iowa.”
Kelly, who has a degree in directing and theatre management, said it wasn’t always in her plans to become a pageant titleholder and eventually Miss Iowa, but that she realized that she represents a certain demographic that doesn’t always get a big voice and that she is now proud to provide a voice on overcoming disabilities by telling her story.