Jeffersontown pageant queen breaking barriers - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Jeffersontown pageant queen breaking barriers

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JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jeffersontown pageant queen is winning over more than the judges. After entering into the pageant world this year and winning, Ryan Neighbors will be the first to compete in the Kentucky Festival Pageant Association in a wheelchair.

It would be easy to think of the struggles when seeing Neighbors' wheelchair. However, the hot pink BMX model better resembles the 7-year-old. 

"She's taught me so much about life and enjoying it and how to enjoy the small things because she's been through 30-plus surgeries. She never stops smiling, never stops giving thumbs up, even through the surgeries. She's just a ray of light," Shelly King, Neighbors' mother said.

Neighbors' Spina bifida has lead to countless scares. However, that hasn't hurt her spirit, especially when a group of pageant friends visited her in the hospital to grant her a wish and asked her to compete.

"That day when we saw her go out on stage for the first time, it was beautiful. It was truly beautiful," Tiffany Redmon said, Mrs. U.S. AmeriFest.

Cell phone video captured her competing in her first pageant and winning her division.

"She had a smile on her face the entire day. Just because she came out on that stage a little bit differently than anyone else -- she was a true competitor and she deserved that title," Redmon said.

"One by one, Ryan just started winning, huh?" King said.

It's more than just bragging rights.

"She's gone through a lot and it takes a lot out of you to heal from those. This system and the girls that she's met and the families and just being involved in it has brought a new light and just something of her own to hold onto," King said.

She isn't done. She collects thousands of toys for other kids like her in the hospital, attended Chicago Fashion Week and will be the first to compete in the state festival pageant in a wheelchair.

"We have the Ms. Wheelchair pageants that happen in the United States and they're big, but to know that she's out there doing her own thing, being independent and mainstreaming herself and not letting any limitations hold her back...like I knew how strong she was, but watching this, it really showed her spirit and her strength," King said.

Neighbors will head to the state competition Nov. 18. 

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