Connor Boss will be one of the contestants on Saturday vying for the Miss Florida title, and, if she is the winner, the 18-year-old college student will be the first legally blind beauty queen to compete in the Miss USA pageant.
Boss was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease, a genetic disorder that led to blindness when she was just eight years old. Special glasses designed for people with the disorder did not help Boss, and she struggled throughout middle and high school to read and take exams. According to Yahoo News, she could barely make eye contact and sometimes found herself in the men's bathroom by mistake.
Nowadays, Boss, a incoming freshman at Florida State University, has peripheral vision and can read in fonts larger than 36-point.
Despite being declared legally blind, Boss hasn't let that stop her from pageantry; She has competed in 11 different pageants and has five titles under her belt. Last year, she even won second runner-up in the Miss Florida Teen USA contest, despite a slight flub. During the swimsuit portion, she stumbled while making her way up the stairs.
Her mother, Traci Boss, said competing in pageants has helped boost the young blonde's confidence, namely in the public speaking portion, since she pretends she is just speaking to herself and not a panel of judges or audience.
But Boss is not looking for sympathy while competing for the crown, according to her mother.
"She doesn't want to be judged on that," Traci said. "She doesn't want a sympathy vote or a pity vote. She wants to show people that she could do what anyone else does."
According to pageant director Mary Lou Gravitt, Boss will not receive any special treatment in the judging process of the pageant, as the competition has seen women with disabilities ranging from speech impediments to hearing issues. Gravitt added that these types of challenges are merely a "part of pageantry."
But Boss' mother hopes that if her daughter is chosen as Miss Florida USA on Saturday, her story will inspire others on her road to the Miss USA crown.
"You hear about people who have disabilities who choose to stay home, but if they find one person who puts herself out there, they might do the same," she said.
View the slideshow to see photos of Boss.