Katherine Southard, a woman who relearned how to dance after having surgery for curvature of the spine, was crowned Miss North Carolina on Saturday night.
Southard, who is from Matthews but won the open Miss Raleigh contest, has scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.
Southard's experience, including surgery two years ago to insert a metal rod in her back, gave her a new confidence, she said.
During her reign, she hopes to raise awareness for her platform, "Scoliosis: Ahead of the Curve."
On Saturday, she was in a three-way tie for first place in the talent competition with her ballet performance. At the close of the competition, she was spinning with joy and disbelief. 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.