Teen competes in beauty pageant after surviving flesh-eating bacteria infection


by Brittany Gonzalez


Posted on January 21, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 21 at 11:34 PM

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A Nelson County teen’s first time on stage at the Miss Kentucky Teen USA pageant inspired thousands.

Kristen Saunders, 17, lost both her legs and her left arm back in 2005 when she was battling a flesh-eating bacteria.

“It was a horrible horrible infection and it was eating me up,” Saunders said.

The high school junior wanted to compete in the pageant to show people about the importance of inner beauty.

“The outside beauty lasts only so long, but if you have beauty within it'll last forever and it'll show forever,” Saunders said.

Saunders’ mom, Kim Spencer, said she was surprised at first by Kristen’s decision to enter, but those feelings disappeared the moment Kristen got on stage.

“My daughter's been through a lot and to see her on stage like that to see her as she grows… is a good experience,” Spencer said.

Saunders represented Bardstown, Kentucky at the pageant against more than a dozen girls. She describes the experience as amazing. She says she never thought she would inspire so many people.

Saunders did not take home the crown, but she did win two top awards: Miss Congeniality and the Virginia Walker Memorial Award.

She says she plans to compete again in the Miss Kentucky Teen Pageant again next year.