WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado mom is going for a lifelong dream, one she thought would never be possible after a tragic accident when she was a child. Danette Haag has taken her scars and turned them into inspiration for other people.
“I used to think that I had to be flawless to be beautiful,” Haag told a group of women and teens at an event she’s speaking at.
Haag has a powerful message for the women at the event, and all women.
“We are all flawed. We are all devalued. We are all imperfect,” she explained.
Haag is a motivational speaker and started her own business called Soul on Fire…Beauty from Ashes. CBS4 attended Haag’s presentation called “Flawless”, where she uses her story to help others see themselves with more love.
“I remember everything about that night,” Haag told CBS4’s Karen Leigh.
She was a happy, healthy, fourth grader, who lived on a family farm in Iowa.
“But in one horrific instance my life was turned upside down,” she said at the event.
Haag and her sister were hosting a 4-H meeting at her home in 1981, 27 people were there. There was an odorless, undetectable gas leak. When her mother turned on the hot water to make coffee, the water heater ignited the gas fumes.
“This huge furious ball of flame followed those fumes through the basement up the steps and into the kitchen. It engulfed everything in it’s path…and everyone… including my father, my baby brother and me,” she recalled.
Haag suffered third degree burns over 70-percent of her body, doctors thought she wouldn’t live.
“I remember thinking this must be some kind of a nightmare,” Haag said.
The nightmare had just begun. Haag went through years of painful treatments, including skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries. She endured compression masks and splints all over her body.
“I lost my identity that night, who I thought I was,” she said.
Haag embarked on a decades-long journey to find herself again. She became a wife and mother, a pediatric nurse and athlete, also a writer and inspirational speaker.
“Everything that I do in my public speaking is based on the idea that scars are scars, and when I see someone else hurting, I understand that my pain and their pain is similar.”
Now Haag is taking on a new challenge.
“I’m honoring a broken dream, as a child, this broken childhood dream to be in a pageant,” she said.
Haag is Mrs. Windsor in the Mrs. Colorado Pageant.
“It’s a level of courage that I’ve had to dig deep to find,” she explained.
She’ll compete in an evening gown, a swimsuit, and a question & answer session.
“I’m honoring the strong woman I’ve become, through my own journey to healing, and hopefully inspiring some women along the way that you do’t have to look a certain way to feel deeply beautiful.”
It’s a message she’s passionate about as she spreads the word that every woman is flawless because of her scars.
“If I can take what I’ve learned along the way, and possibly inspire someone so that their journey can be better, it just doesn’t get any better than that for me. It brings purpose to my pain.”
Haag will be competing at the Mrs. Colorado competition on March 30th.