The first-ever Miss America contestant with a visible disability is competing for the crown this week. Miss Iowa Teresa Uchytil was born without a left hand. The Urbandale 24-year-old is one of the nation’s top baton twirlers and is a program manager for Gateway Computers. She’s already won national acclaim and was featured this week in the German and Australian media. Speaking to Radio Iowa from Atlantic City, New Jersey, Uchytil says she’s not now, and never has, sought sympathy for her condition.Uchytil is an Iowa State University graduate and was the I-S-U Marching Band’s featured twirler. Her Miss Iowa platform focuses on continuing to eliminate barriers that keep people with disabilities from full integration and equality in schools, in workplaces and in society.This year’s pageant isn’t even being called a “pageant,” it’s just Miss America. Changes include webcasting, celebrity judges and an appearance by the boy band O-Town. Uchytil says the show has a spicy, updated look.The Miss America finals will be telecast Saturday night on A-B-C.
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