Senior With Down Syndrome Crowned High School Queen

Kirstin Pass, 18, was crowned homecoming queen at her Texas high school.

ByABC News
October 13, 2008, 5:19 PM

Oct. 14, 2008 — -- The title of homecoming queen is typically reserved for the head cheerleader or student class president, but not so at one Texas high school where this year's queen saw hundreds of onlookers moved to tears as she was crowned.

"There wasn't a dry eye to be seen," said Carolyn Pass, the mother of newly crowned queen Kristin Pass, who was born with Down syndrome 18 years ago.

Kristin Pass told that she was thrilled to receive the crown.

"I was surprised and happy about [winning]," she said.

The crowd at the Aledo High School football stadium erupted into cheers and gave her a standing ovation during halftime at Friday evening's game, Pass said.

"Everyone said 'good job,'" she said.

Down syndrome affects one in every 733 babies born each year, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, and occurs when a person has three, not two, copies of the 21st chromosome.

And while some may assume Pass' condition might alienate her from her peers, the teen's family and friends say that she's always had a lot of friends.

"I don't think there is another human in this world who has as many friends as Kristin does," said Chari Hust, Kristin's aunt. "She's a great kid."

Kristin was one of three senior girls chosen from a field of about 15 to vie for the title, and she was as shocked as everyone else when the results of the vote were announced, her aunt said.

"Her smile was probably as big as the state of Texas," said Hust of her niece's reaction to her prize. "She kept mouthing 'thank you' from the stage.

"Everyone in the stands burst into tears -- I've never heard anything so loud in my life," Hust said. "Everyone was on their feet yelling, 'Yeah, Kristin!' louder than they had been cheering during the game."

Quashing any doubts that the results may have been fixed in Pass' favor, Hust emphasized that there was no foul play behind the scenes.

"There was no campaign to make sure that Kristin won -- this naturally happened," Hust said. "She is the coolest kid in the whole wide world."

On top of battling the hardships of living with Down syndrome -- such as cognitive delays and an increased risk for heart defects and respiratory and hearing problems -- Pass' father died suddenly two years ago.