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Teen Wins Global Beauty Pageant, Becomes First Pageant Queen With Down Syndrome

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If you've ever been behind the scenes at a beauty pageant, you know how grand of a production it can be.

Filled with glitz and glamour, dozens of contestants vie for the coveted title of pageant queen, but only one will come out victorious.

During the Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World, 40 young women from around the world competed for the crown, but this year, an unlikely but deserving Northern Ireland teen came out victorious.

"I was in shock. My family were all in the audience, ­crying and cheering."

Kate Grant, 19, won the international beauty pageant, becoming the first model with down syndrome to be awarded the title.

Of course, the teen from Northern Ireland said that after her win her "dream has come true."

"I was in shock. My family were all in the audience, ­crying and cheering," she told the Mirror.

"My dream has come true. And that dream is to get a chance to inspire young people who have Down’s ­syndrome and other special needs to believe in themselves."

The Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World pageant celebrates diversity, and people who are “beautiful inside and out."

It has three categories for children, teens and those over 20, and welcomes participants regardless of height, weight or martial status.

The pageant supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization that grants wishes to children suffering from life-threatening diseases.

"I sashayed down the catwalk giving it all my sass."

The competition, hosted in Portadown, Northern Ireland,  began with a panel of judges interviewing each contestant, and while Kate's mother Deirdre wasn't allowed in the room with her daughter, she knew she'd blow it out of the park.

"I knew she’d charm them but what made me most proud was how Kate looked after other candidates, ­encouraging and supporting them," Deirdre told the publication.

Following the interview, Kate and her fellow contestants strutted down the catwalk, which features a casual round, a "time to shine" round, and finally, the formal competition.

"I sashayed down the catwalk giving it all my sass. I just wanted to have fun and truly expected someone else’s name to be called as the winner," Kate shared.

"Now I’ll be attending photo shoots throughout the year and will be a judge and mentor at next year’s final."

"Most importantly I’ll be involved in an appeal where we’ll deliver hundreds of toys to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. I want to give poorly children a moment of sunshine."

"The doctor painted a bleak future."

This isn't the first time Kate's been in the spotlight, as the teenager had previously walked the runway at Belfast Fashion Week and modeled for boutiques in her hometown of Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

However, her career began with a rocky start. Although she already had an impressive resume under her belt, Deirdre said Kate struggled to get work, which she believed was related to her daughter's disability.

Deirdre said that when she was pregnant with Kate, doctors told her and her husband John they weren't optimistic about their daughter's future.

"After two sons, John and I were thrilled to be expecting a girl," the mother-of-four said. "When Kate was born it was confirmed she had Down’s syndrome within hours."

"The doctor painted a bleak future. He said she wouldn’t learn to read, her speech would be limited and she’d never hold full conversations."

"I thought of him as she made her acceptance speech up on the stage at the pageant, describing her hopes for an inclusive society, one where people like her are treated as equals."

"Kindness, compassion and inner ­sparkle, that’s the ultimate beauty."

The proud mom said Kate announced to the family she wanted to become a model at only 13 years old, and the family never stood in the way of her dreams.

"Kate said it was her dream come true to enter the pageant. Now she could help make dreams come true for other kids," Deirdre said.

"I want the next generation who have any special needs to know the true meaning of beauty is who you are, not what you look like," Kate chimed in.

"Kindness, compassion and inner ­sparkle, that’s the ultimate beauty. If the judges saw that in me then I’m happy."

Undoubtedly, the judges agreed, with one even calling her a "star."

"Kate was the spirit and soul of The Ultimate Beauty and stood for everything it is about – inner and outer beauty. She’s such a star, she’s unbelievable and we’re so proud to have her as our teen winner."

Congratulations to Kate for winning the crown!

Have you ever entered a beauty pageant? Share with us know your experiences in the comments!

[H/T: Mirror]

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