ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Child abuse is a heart-wrenching and appalling crime that most of us hope we never have to witness.
More than a million children are victims of child abuse and neglect each year, according to state child protective service agencies, and many victims don't receive help because they are not reported to the system.
Lyric Harcus, 15, was abused and abandoned by her parents as a baby.
She was later adopted by Missy and Charles Harcus at two years old.
Missy Harcus says the first 11 years after adopting Lyric were extremely tough.
Lyric had terrible nightmares. She wouldn't eat and she had no social skills.
Doctors diagnosed Lyric with ADHD, bi-poplar disorder, depression, sleeping disorder and anxiety, which causes her to pick away her flesh.
However, Missy and Charles Harcus said they saw a change in Lyric after she entered her first pageant.
The Harcus family said when Lyric first took the stage, she became a person they had never seen before.
Lyric has been competing pageants for the last two years and won more than 40 pageants.
Lyric said she loves pageants because they allow her to show her personality and builds her confidence.
So, the week Missy and Charles Harcus are our "Heroes Next Door".
The pageants that Lyric competes in benefit people in the community.
In fact, on April 29th Lyric will be competing in the "Miss Heart of USA Pageant" at the Holiday Inn off Baymeadows in Jacksonville.
All of the proceeds from that pageant will benefit the Hubbard House, which is a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.
First Coast News