ST. CLOUD - The incredible success of 16-year-old Grace Grell can only be matched by her incredible life story.

Though she is just a teenager, Grell has gone through more than your average person. She was diagnosed with NF1 (Neurofibromatosis), a rare form of cancer when she was just three-years-old. When she was 14, she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time.

The cancer affected her eye-sight and she is legally blind.

Through the adversity she found a love for pageantry and last week was crowned Miss Teen Minnesota.

She has only been in pageantry for a few years. Her first time on stage, at 14,  she was in the middle of chemotherapy.

Her mother, Polly Grell, says she could see that her daughter was sick but battled through it and after her first pageant Grace said she couldn't wait to do it again.

From there Grell's passion for pageantry grew and she hired a coach who she credits for much of her success.

"[Wendi Russo} helped me so much. With out her I would not have won."

The mild-mannered teenager says she hopes to inspire others with obstacles to overcome them.

"I know people think that because of my disabilities I need to be upset or I should stay in my room, but that's not what I want to do.  I want to inspire other kids with whatever kinds of disabilities they have to go out there and go for their dreams."

One of the ways she says she is helping inspire others is by giving back to the Make-A-Wish foundation that helped make a wish of hers come true.

"What they do is so important...{Make-A-Wish} really gave me a new sense of hope for my journey that I had to take."

Grell is also an accomplished artist. She sells her art through her website and all proceeds are going to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

The next step for Grell, outside of homework at St. Johns Prep, is to get ready for nationals in Hollywood over Thanksgiving weekend.

Grace Grell Miss Teen Minnesota (Justin LaBounty WJON)
Grace Grell Miss Teen Minnesota (Justin LaBounty WJON)


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