Success Stories Within The IDD Community: Abbey Curran

Abbey Curran is a beauty pageant competitor who has won Miss Iowa USA. Curran lives with cerebral palsy and was determined to prove naysayers wrong.

Early Life:

Abbey Nicole Curran was born on July 28, 1987, in Kewanee, Illinois. When she was two years old, her mother realized that she would grab onto furniture for stability when she tried to walk. They took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy.  Throughout her childhood, she wore leg braces, went to physical therapy, and had surgery to lengthen her heel-cord. Curran attended Kewanee High School and then went on to graduate from St. Ambrose University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. Living with cerebral palsy did not keep her from doing everyday tasks and setting her dreams high. 

 “People with disabilities have vast and limitless capabilities and are beautiful. And, participants never know what they can achieve until they step forward and try.”

Abbey Curran

Career Success:

Curran’s first entry into the pageant world was at the age of 16. She entered herself into the Henry County Fair pageant. Her teacher told her “Oh Abbey, be realistic, you can’t do that!” This only made her more determined to succeed. 

When she was studying at St. Ambrose University, she acquired an application for the Miss Iowa pageant. Her goal was to make the top 10, but much to her surprise she made the top 5, then the top 2, and then she won the whole pageant! She was crowned Miss Iowa USA in 2008. Curran then went on to represent Iowa in the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. She competed against participants from the other 49 states and the District of Columbia. Curran was the first person with a disability and with cerebral palsy to compete in a Miss USA pageant. 

In 2004, Curran created the “Miss You Can Do It” pageant. This pageant is for children with special needs. Curran developed this pageant because she realized the confidence boost pageants gave her. She wanted every child to have that opportunity. The “Miss You Can Do It” pageant ran in the same way a traditional pageant would: a one-on-one interview, a talent exhibition, a fashion show, and a stage question. Curran said she hoped this pageant would “ help people re-conceive their idea of beauty, inside and out.” 

“I hope that people – including the children – realize that there’s no reason you can’t enter a pageant, or go to dance class, or achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.”

Abbey Curran

Current Day:

In 2015, Curran published her autobiography titled The Courage to Compete. She is also an advocate for children with disabilities, especially cerebral palsy. During her reign as Miss Iowa USA, she worked with United Cerebral Palsy. Curran never let her disability stop her from achieving her dreams!

Be sure to check out our previous success story featuring Armani Williams and a similar success story featuring Madeline Stuart!







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