Anna Hankins has a dynasty going at the Mississippi Miss Amazing beauty pageant.
The 15-year-old has now won the state title three times, and plans to compete at the national pageant this summer in Chicago.
Miss Amazing recognizes woman and girls with disabilities, and Hankins is proud to represent and bring awareness to Prader-Willi syndrome, the rare genetic disorder that she’s had since birth.
“I am glad to open up and talk about PWS because it is a very complex syndrome and people do not understand all the parts of the syndrome,” Hankins tells PEOPLE.
Her mother, Jennifer, explains that people with PWS deal with constant hunger and a slowed metabolism, and have limits on their metabolism, cognitive function and behavior.
“Those who have PWS need intervention and strict external controls, sometimes including padlocking access to food, to maintain normal weight and to help save their lives,” Jennifer, 37, says. “Anna is constantly hungry, so she always wants to know what is planned for the next meal or snack.
Everything she does revolves around food. She also has heart failure and hypertension, which she needs oxygen all day for, and sleep apnea.”
But the Miss Amazing pageant is a major highlight for Anna each year. At the 2017 competition, Anna sang “Amazing Grace,” and says that singing and getting her hair and makeup done were her favorite parts of the pageant.
“I love it,” Anna says. “[It’s] wonderful and amazing to be a part of something.”
“Anna is an inspiration to us because of her sweet spirit and cheerful disposition,” Lori Brasfield, the director of Mississippi Miss Amazing, tells PEOPLE. “Prader-Willi syndrome is rare, but Anna takes those difficulties in stride … She is not afraid to meet the judges for interview or take the stage to showcase her talents.
She embodies what Miss Amazing is about by sharing her talents and abilities with her community.”
Anna also added that she loved making new friends at the pageant, and, of course, winning.
“I was so excited to get a crown and a sash, and [see] everyone clapping for me,” she says.