HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Connor Boss is beating the odds as the Miss Florida USA competition's first legally blind contestant, and she is inspiring others in the process.
Boss has had a retina disease since age 8.
"I don't have central vision. I have peripheral. That's why I'm always looking to the side," Boss said.
But, her disease has not stopped Boss from doing what she loves. She is a track star, a student body president and Miss Delray Beach USA.
"I don't let it hold me back. I like to do whatever I want to do. I'm not really into contact sports, though; I will say that. I'm a little afraid of basketball and football and all that, so pageants work," Boss said.
In December, Boss met Jessica Santiago, Miss West Broward USA. Since then, they have reunited and their friendship is stronger than ever.
"I like helping her because I don't like to see her lost," Santiago said.
"She makes me laugh, but she always goes the extra mile just to make sure that I'm OK, that I have what I need, I'm going to the right place. I just, I love her," Boss said.
During the preparations for the pageant this week, where one of the two women is, the other is sure to be nearby.
"We've just been doing everything together, and I will be so happy if she wins," Boss said.
"I really want us to just go very far in the competition," Santiago said.
Boss realizes she is sometimes the center of attention, and she is using that for good.
"I don't try and tell people that I'm legally blind. This all kind of just came out, and I don't want people's pity at all. I want the exact opposite. I want people to know that I'm just as capable," Boss said.
"She even tells me. She's like, 'I don't want anybody to take pity on me. I just want to make friends. I just want to be here and compete like everybody else,'" Santiago said.
"Honestly, I would be just as happy if she won as if I won," Boss said.
Choreographer Vicki Davis said that in the opening number, she has made sure Boss will not have to use the stairs onstage. But, as far as the dance and the rest of the competition, she said she expects Boss to be up to par with the rest of the contestants.
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