Miss Raleigh wins N.C. crown

Staff and wire reportsJune 28, 2009 

— A woman who relearned dance after having surgery for a curved spine has been named Miss North Carolina.

Miss Raleigh, Katherine Southard, was crowned Saturday night during a ceremony in Raleigh. Southard, who is from Matthews but won the open Miss Raleigh contest, suffered from scoliosis, which causes abnormal curvature of the spine.

Southard, who hails from Matthews but won the open Miss Raleigh contest, was still spinning today from her victory last night.

"I think I'm in Raleigh," she said in the afternoon.

After scheduled stops across the state, she will return to Raleigh and keep her home base here for a year.

During her reign she hopes to raise more awareness about her platform, "Scoliosis: Ahead of the Curve."

Southard, a dancer who was diagnosed in her early youth with scoliosis, touts the benefits of early detection. The condition can lead to back problems and severe pain.

Southard had surgery two years ago and had a metal rod inserted. After that she had to relearn to dance.

Her experience, she says, gave her new confidence.

But on Saturday, she said, when the judge called her name as the new Miss North Carolina, she paused briefly.

"I had to make sure I was really hearing my name," Southard said.

The AP contributed to this report

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