Iowa Miss Amazing Shelby Kurth goes national
Shelby Kurth, 13, poses for photos on May 12 in the backyard of her family’s home in Marion. Shelby was crowned Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen on April 24 in Des Moines and is preparing to enter the National Miss Amazing Pageant from July 30 to August 2 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
MARION – As Shelby Kurth, 13, flips through the pages of Vogue magazine, she stops to look at a Christian Dior model: a tall woman in the service of haute couture in a sleek black, facing the camera with a determined gaze against a bright pink backdrop that matches the reader’s nail polish.
“This one,” she said, looked like him, “because she’s beautiful.”
After being crowned Miss Amazing Junior Teen Queen of Iowa in April, the confidence the teenager with Down’s syndrome earned still hasn’t gone away. With a fierce look and poise to match that of the model, Shelby knows how to turn virtually any room into a runway with a headband, a hair cut, and a hand on her hip.
Shelby Kurth, 13, is holding some of the flowers from the bouquet she received when she was crowned Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen on April 24 in Des Moines. Shelby will be entering the National Miss Amazing Pageant this summer. (Photo by Cliff Jette, courtesy of the Kurth family)
“I don’t know if she realizes that she is doing it… but she is breaking down some barriers and the stigma of Down syndrome,” said her father, Jay Kurth. “Even though Shelby technically has an extra chromosome, I still think it’s not that she has an extra one, but the rest of us are missing one.
Shelby Kurth, 13, jumps on her trampoline on May 12 in the yard of her family’s house in Marion. Shelby was crowned Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen in Des Moines on April 24 and is preparing to enter the National Miss Amazing Pageant this summer in Nashville. (Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
But for the girl who basks in the limelight of pageants as the princess of her dreams, the beauty runs beyond deep.
“She’s so full of love for everyone, no matter who you are, what you do, what you look like,” said mom, Kim Kurth.
Shelby has a way of feeling when someone needs a smile, always knowing what to do to feel better, said those who know her best – mostly through her signature Shelby hug.
Patrick McMickle of Cedar Rapids receives a hug from Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen Shelby Kurth, 13, of Marion, after winning a bidding war for an automobile-themed piece of art at the sale fundraising auction at Cruisin ‘for Camp Courageous on May 16 in Monticello. Shelby attended Camp Courageous for several years and her family attended the auto show often. (Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
In a hallway of visitors to the oncology department of the hospital, the often shy young girl feels compelled to offer a hug to strangers. On car cruises, her touch melts the hearts of gruff-looking participants. If a child is crying, she will ask what is wrong.
Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen Shelby Kurth, 13, of Marion, (right) waves as she and her mother, Kim Kurth, take part in the Cruisin ‘for Camp Courageous event on May 16 in Monticello in the family’s 1993 Mustang convertible. Shelby attended Camp Courageous for several years and her family attended the auto show often. (Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
At one point, she had to learn that she couldn’t kiss everyone, everywhere.
“She doesn’t care who you are or your beliefs,” Jay said. “She’s your friend.”
In doing so – with or without the crown, makeup, styled hair, or sparkly dress – she acts as a role model for others like her, watching her on and off stage.
“Representation is everything,” said Nikole Villanueva, a service provider for the Arc of East Central Iowa, who has worked with Shelby for four years.
After watching Shelby evolve from the girl who had to whisper her McDonald’s order to the young woman who can talk to strangers uninvited, she will accompany the Kurths to Tennessee, where Shelby will compete nationally for a chance to win. an even bigger Miss. Amazing crown.
There, she will show off her talent by walking on the moon and performing moves to the beat of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”.
Like many girls her age, Queen Miss Amazing Junior Teen offers a nuanced personality. A fan of hot pink and Cinderella, she will dress to help her dad work on the garage cars.
With the confidence of a princess, she enjoys being the center of attention, both in and out of the cars her parents drive at auto shows and rallycross races. When crossing paths at annual fundraisers like Cruisin ‘for Camp Courageous, she has a preference for the Jeep which allows her to be more visible. A speed demon at heart, she prefers to ride with her father, who tends to drive with a heavier foot.
Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen Shelby Kurth, 13, of Marion, (right) greets participants as they arrive for the May 16 Cruisin ‘for Camp Courageous in Monticello. Shelby attended Camp Courageous for several years and her family attended the auto show often. (Photo by Cliff Jette, courtesy of the Kurth family)
“This is my princess tom,” Jay said.
Shelby’s musical tastes reflect a varied taste with Michael Jackson, Elvis, Queen’s Freddie Mercury, and Tina Turner at the top of her playlist. But Shelby knows more than words – she’s a traveling encyclopedia of artists and celebrities, with details memorized until some die.
When Shelby got involved in contests six years ago, following a mailed ad for the National American Miss, Kim and Jay were hoping it would be just something for her.
“I (thought) Shelby would love that, blowing herself up and going out in front of people to be a princess,” Kim said. “And she did. She happens, once a year, to be a princess.
Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen Shelby Kurth, 13 from Marion, (right) displays a work of art to be auctioned off at the fundraising auction at Cruisin ‘for Camp Courageous in Monticello. Shelby attended Camp Courageous for several years and her family often attended the auto show. (Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
Her favorite part of the contests?
“Winning,” Shelby said, highlighting his competitive streak.
Conversely, the toughest competition?
“Lose,” she confirmed.
But the confidence she has now came with time. One of her first American Miss introductions came spontaneously. Without a response, she learned the outline of the presentations from the other candidates, offering more detail than she had practiced.
Shelby Kurth rides with his father, Jay Kurth, as he competes in an Iowa-area SCCA RallyCross at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa on August 29, 2020. Shelby enjoys riding with both parents as they compete in the amateur motorsport, which involves the timed navigation of an unpaved course defined by cones. (Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
With the power of pageantry, Shelby is not seen as a different person on stage, but rather as a person in her element.
“We were just stunned,” Kim said. “We knew she was capable, but we didn’t know at this point.
Her abilities are just one of the lessons she’s instilled in those who love her the most. After learning to lose gracefully and be happy for the other winners, she comforts her father after bad descents in rallycross races.
“I think what probably stands out is that she encourages everyone,” said Morgan Tooley, state director of Iowa Miss Amazing, the contest that offers girls and women with disabilities the opportunity to develop their self-esteem.
The Kurths are working to raise $ 4,000 by July 16 on shelbykurth.com to cover Shelby’s expenses to compete in the national competition for Miss Amazing.
With the chance to help them build their confidence in a fun, supportive environment, Tooley says Miss Amazing gives every girl like Shelby a chance to feel like a queen.
“You don’t turn on Miss America… and don’t see someone with Down’s syndrome win,” Jay said. “She is able to be in a positive environment where they are the stars.”
Without being symbolized for their disabilities, girls like Shelby are seen for who they really are. In an environment where they are the stars, Shelby is only limited by what she wants to do.
Iowa Miss Amazing Junior Teen Shelby Kurth, 13, of Marion, (right) displays the pinstripe artwork on a toolbox to bid at the fundraising auction at the Cruisin ‘event for Camp Courageous on May 16 in Monticello. Shelby attended Camp Courageous for several years and her family often attended the auto show. (Photo by Cliff Jette, courtesy of the Kurth family)
When Jay mentions to new people that his daughter has Down syndrome, the typical response is “I’m sorry,” he says.
“Well, I’m not,” he replies.
When Shelby’s parents look at her, they also see a girl as beautiful as the models in Vogue.
Iowa Miss Amazing Jr Teen Shelby Kurth, 13, of Marion, (right) greets attendees as they arrive for the Cruisin ‘for Camp Courageous event on May 16 in Monticello. Shelby has been attending Camp Courageous for several years and her family frequently attends the annual auto show. (Cliff Jette / Kurth Family)
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