Despite battling crippling illness, Amy-Leigh Sterritt has been crowned Miss Teen Inspirational Beauty Queen 2018.
The amazing 13-year-old scooped the top award last week at a beauty pageant in Portadown.
A pupil at Clounagh Junior High School, Amy-Leigh has courageously dealt with illness after illness over the past seven years.
When she was aged just six years old, Amy-Leigh was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.
Her mum Emma said: “She started walking strangely and was very stiff and her hands were swollen.
“At Craigavon Hospital they had never heard tell of it and she was sent to Musgrave Park Hospital who diagnosed her with the condition.”
Emma revealed that her daughter went regularly for check-ups and when she was aged nine her blood tests showed that her kidney function was deteriorating.
“She was diagnosed with systemic lupus in her kidney,” said Emma, explaining that lupus is a type of disease that means your immune system is faulty and starts attacking your own body’s organs.
And, as if Amy-Leigh didn’t have enough going on, just six weeks ago she was diagnosed as having heart disease, on stop of being autistic and having learning difficulties.
It is to her credit that despite such a litany of illness, Amy-Leigh has kept a positive outlook.
“She had been a competitive dancer, specialising in free-style disco but because of her illness she had to give it up,” said Emma.
“After that she had been a little bit down but taking part in this pageant has really boosted her confidence.”
“This is an amazing beauty pageant run by a girl and her family who truly care about not only making a difference to kids by raising massive amounts of money, of which every single penny goes to Make A Wish Foundation, but they have a very special crown, sash and cup,” she said.
“It’s the Dempsey Memorial Cup in memory of a young cancer patient who sadly lost her life before her wish of becoming a beauty queen came true.
“On Saturday, July 28, Amy was crowned Miss Teen Inspirational Beauty Queen 2018 also receiving the Memorial Cup.
“Not only that she also received Most Dedicated Beauty Queen.”
Mum Emma, dad Jonathan and seven-year-old brother Caleb are very proud of Amy-Leigh’s achievement.
“We are very proud and humbled that Amy-Leigh was chosen for this award for being an inspiration to every one involved in the Ultimate Beauty.
“With this title Amy-Leigh will be making appearances and running charity events over the coming year that’s she is Miss Inspirational Beauty 2018.
“She is over the moon and though, because of her autism, she can be a bit overwhelmed in public, she is throwing herself into being the best beauty queen ever and she has taken to it like a duck to water.”
The newly crowned Miss Teen Inspirational Beauty Queen 2018 plans on carrying out a number of charity functions over the next year to raise money for several charities including the Royal Victoria Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital, Make A Wish Foundation and an arthritis charity.
And her grandmother Linda Wright is planning a special coffee morning at her Banbridge Elim Church.
“Amy-Leigh really has risen up against the odds and I hope she is an inspiration to children who feel they are not good enough,” said mum Emma.