Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America 2013

Mrs. Vermont Shares Hopeful Message

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Thursday September 19, 2013

Mrs. Vermont America 2013 Hannah Kirkpatrick, a native of South Burlington, has it all: beauty, intelligence, love, health, happiness. But just a few years ago, her life was crumbling because of addictive substances and behaviors. Now in recovery, Kirkpatrick has discovered her self worth and is sharing her message of hope with audiences across the state. 

At the age of 16, Kirkpatrick, now 32, a self proclaimed “Tom boy,” received a solicitation card for the Miss Vermont Teen USA pageant. Her family and friends laughed it off as a postal delivery error. Kirkpatrick took it on as a challenge.  

As a junior at South Burlington High School, Kirkpatrick placed third runner up in her first state competition. She improved her standing her senior year by placing first runner up. Following graduation, Kirkpatrick moved to Arizona to attend college and pursue her goal of winning a state or national title. 

“In my 20s I competed to launch a career, gain notoriety and validation,” admitted Kirkpatrick, a former participant in both the Miss America and Miss USA pageants. “It proved I was smart enough, good enough, that people liked me. If I could just be perfect, life would be okay.”

But life was not okay. Kirkpatrick’s addictions caused her separation from her husband, Chris. She lost her home, her job, even the car.  

“I ended up hurting myself and the people around me in my quest for perfection,” Kirkpatrick shared. “It was killing me. I had been taken to my knees by substances and behaviors that I hadn’t recognized were preventing me from becoming the person I was meant to be.” 

Kirkpatrick courageously reached out for help, admitting herself into three recovery programs. Eight months later, at the age of 28, she says she made changes and found herself. She learned beauty comes from the inside out. She repaired the damage to her marriage and began again.

“I was given a second chance at life,” said Kirkpatrick. “I’ve become comfortable in my own skin; I don’t need validation from others.”

The Kirkpatricks relocated back to Vermont, eager to start a new life and create a family. Their first child, a girl, was born in 2011. 

This spring, Kirkpatrick returned to pageantry and was crowned Mrs. Vermont America. Representing what she calls the postcard perfect state, she competed in Mrs. America 2013 in Tucson, Arizona, on August 28. 

Three weeks of daily rehearsals, public appearances, and engagements culminated in a night of pageantry with the traditional fitness and evening gown competitions and live on-stage interviews. 

“This takes you to places of finding strength you didn’t think you had,” Kirkpatrick shared. “Competition is about self improvement. I was sending love to every woman, wishing her peace and wishing she could be her best shining self.”

Kirkpatrick, competing with a sprained foot, became the first Vermonter to place in the top 15. 

“Words cannot describe how lucky I am,” Kirkpatrick said humbly. “I met some of the most amazing women in my life. I get a chance to be Mrs. Vermont until March.”

As Mrs. Vermont America, Kirkpatrick uses her platform to share her message of joy in a life of recovery, speaking to students, parents and adult groups about redemption and hope.

“I was sheltered from pain in life,” Kirkpatrick reflects. “I never heard about challenges; I only heard about glories. Now I tell my struggles - things people don’t talk about. It would have saved me.”

Find Hannah Kirkpatrick, Recovery Advocate and Inspirational Speaker, at Facebook.com/hannahboucherkirkpatrick.

SOUCE: Lisa Osbahr, Contributor