ms wheelchair america.

Ms Wheelchair America.

There are so many great things I could say about the Ms Wheelchair America pageant. But in the interest of you actually reading this blog all the way through, I will keep it to the point.

The week in Des Moines was, in one word, energizing.

We arrived on Monday to sign in and settle before our welcome dinner. The hotels were connected with a skywalk, which actually connects all of downtown Des Moines. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was pretty cool.

On Tuesday, we rolled about 9 blocks to the Science Center and spent the day playing games and roaming around with other contestants. It was great ice breaker day, and I learned so much about the other girls in these few hours.

20412675686_8f27ec3ecc_kWednesday, Thursday, and most of Friday was judging and workshops. We learned about things like advocacy history, social media, legislation and grassroots advocacy efforts, as well as the stories of a few of the women who put this year’s event together. So much information. So much fun.

Friday night, each of us presented our platform speech to the judges and an audience. I was nervous, but I knew that no matter what happened, I was never going to be more ready. I think that after Friday night, nobody really knew who would be a  front runner because everyone did so well.11802749_10207098840970136_4001188806808152268_o

On Saturday, we mainly  primped and relax waiting for the crowning night.11782407_10207098871970911_5882973594109854969_o 11059538_10207098882051163_5153518021669852639_o 11838792_10207098884091214_6061106640303831377_oI had a small section in the audience to cheer me on. Greg’s parents and niece and nephews came as well as my brother, his girlfriend and his daughters. Delaney and her family was there also. My co-workers, Mandy and Phil and their kids made the drive too. And of course, my mom, Greg and Reagan.

The crowning ceremony seemed to go rather fast to me. It seemed like we were up there, they announced top 5, asked more questions, and there was the winner. It was straight forward and on schedule.

The winner, Dr. Alette Coble Temple, was so, so deserving of the title of Ms Wheelchair America. Her platform is about adoption equality for persons with disabilities after she and her husband were denied many times before finally adopting their daughter, who is now 11. She is already a great Ms Wheelchair America.

All of the girls had very unique stories and platforms, and I feel like I connected with each of them on some level because I believed in each platform that was presented. From things like accessibility to friendship to advocating for parents with disabilities, every sinlge lady had a good point and good information to share.11791996_10207089227409803_3460853186201029011_o

We are already planning a reunion for the class of 2016 Ms Wheelchair America contestants! And many of us plan on making it to next year’s event in Michigan.

One thing I have loved so much about the Ms Wheelchair Kansas organization and the Ms Wheelchair America organization is that I feel so at home with these women. They get my issues and can relate on a very personal level, rather than just empathizing with me about them.


It has been quite a 4 months since I have been crowned. I have gotten to meet people that I would never have met, and I am hoping that I have changed some outlooks on the way that disabilities are seen.

Delaney and I attended Challenge Games, a track and field events for young people with disabilities, in Derby, Kansas where she competed (and did great!). I got to see children with a variety of disabilities run and bike their little hearts out. They smiled the entire day, no matter how tired they were. They laughed and played with their friends. They were just being kids.

I have to say that Challenge Games was so inspiring (I actually hate that word) for me.

Children with disabilities make me look at life in a whole new way, maybe because I acquired my disability later. They don’t care about anything,e except wanting to be a peer, and they carry themselves as just themselves. They don’t worry as much about stereotypes and judgments as adults do. To me, that is what strength is.11169633_1051275251568878_5061922755148146386_o

We also attended the SACK Conference at the Ramada Inn. If you don’t know about SACK, it is the Self Advocate Coalition of Kansas, and they are real fire-starters. Stephanie Sanford was one of the women I met during the Ms Wheelchair Kansas pageant weekend in March, and she is one of those people who get you fired up about life and advocacy and doing what is right. Definitely role model material for anyone wanting to advocate for themselves or someone else.1510446_895778610486459_4410584082513811285_n 11193421_895778637153123_3309636944398564000_n

I attended The KC Diamond Softball Tournament in Topeka, where I threw out the first pitch against the Nebraska Red Barons. Actually, I threw the first pitch 4 times because cameras weren’t working properly. Haha. It was fun to watch the guys get so competitive! It was hot, and they just kept on going, sun and heat and all. 11406719_844946198927308_4718599087117121401_n

Then Nationals came along. I have a whole different post to tell about my week in Des Moines, but I will say that I have 24+ new friends who have the same goal as me: to advocate and empower women/people with disabilities. If anyone ever, ever has a chance in life to meet with and discuss issues with and bond with people who have very similar circumstances as you: DO IT. You will not regret it. You will be lifted up and motivated. Do it.

Quick update.

It has been a fun experience so far, and I am settling into my new role pretty well. I have set up some appearances for the next few months and am preparing for the Ms Wheelchair America competition that will be at the end of July. I always seem to put too much pressure on myself to prepare and perform well, and while I do want to do well in the competition, I am making this Ms Wheelchair America experience more about the experience and friendships and fun. I don’t want to look back and say that I missed out on an opportunity to become someone’s friend because I was too focused on the competition side of it.

I hope you all are enjoying your spring and looking forward to the warm weather that is just on the other side of this weekend, hopefully. May is always a transition month from cool to warm and then squelching hot. Enjoy the coolish temperatures while they last!

A fun weekend.

I had no idea what I was going into when I showed up for Ms Wheelchair Kansas. I only knew one girl, Amanda (Ms Wheelchair Kansas 2009) prior to signing up and had to talked to Carrie Greenwood online. I was nervous, but it was apparent as soon as I got to the hotel and was greeted by Angel, Carrie, and Mandy that it was going to be a good weekend.

(All photos by Stacy Greenwood!)
16258679093_fcf14b202b_kI also met one of the other contestants while I was in the lobby, Jessica Soderland.
16691024618_cd31039325_k That first night, we had a little orientation session for everyone to come together and get to know everyone else. I was the newest member of the group. We did a few exercises that dealt with things we like and don’t like and some that got us thinking about how we are perceived by others. There were a lot of laughs, and I left feeling like I had again found a “group” that I fit in really well.16671289467_ce48b98d3a_k 16852750526_dfef9e23da_oOn Saturday, the judging began. Between judging sessions, we had different people come to speak to us about things like social media presence, interviewing, and advocacy. It was a lot of information in one day all held together with frazzled nerves, but it was a good time too. I learned so much and felt very empowered and motivated.

The judging sessions were not near as nerve wracking as I had imagined. The judges were actually very relaxed and seemed to have more of a conversation than a typical hard-edge question and answer. I left the first interview feeling both silly, because talking about my daughter made me cry, and confident. 16258534903_60bc35a82e_k 16691162350_a844f5d364_kThen we Zumba-d with Joanne Fluke, Miss Wheelchair Kansas 2005.

16690892988_36ae3a16d1_k 16877265692_4876654cec_kAfter a little break, we traveled to the Ronald McDonald House in Topeka, and we made pizza for dinner. It was so fun, singing along to Jenny’s iPod, and hearing about how much Delaney, our Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas 2015, LOVES One Direction. We had a ton of leftovers, and I hope that the visitors at the RMH enjoyed them later!

16693077069_d9250a079f_k 16879194855_9b9fcb4d02_k 16853307186_d71c734e73_kThat night, we held a little pajama party in Bridget’s (Ms Wheelchair Kansas 2014) room. There were games and snacks and a ton of laughs.

16691527088_f338216ac0_k 16691748260_c9bf663712_kSunday was the day of the actual pageant. We had a few early sessions and went off to get beautiful for the big event.

The pageant made me very nervous. Normally, I do not have to talk in front of big groups of people, especially people I don’t know. I will admit to shaking a little bit.

After they had crowned our adorable Little Miss, Delaney, came time for our platform speeches and questions. (You’ll hear plenty more about her on this blog this year also!)

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Keara and Jessica had awesome speeches, and I was intimidated as the last one to deliver mine. I somehow made it through my platform and 2 judges on-stage questions, even though I had to later ask my husband what they had asked because I couldn’t remember!

When they called my name as this year’s titleholder, I couldn’t believe it. I really did not think that I would win given that Keara and Jessica had such strong speeches. Those two ladies deserve a huge round of applause.

16258999623_79ae3fb3f2_k 16877967981_eaaf54cfc7_k 16853086786_1bd5716dc2_k 16691457450_31335f5533_kI was exhausted when it was over. As fun as the entire weekend was, I was so worn out from nerves and excitement.

I am still excited for the rest of the year. I want to make a difference. I want to change people’s minds. I want to go out and let them know that we are here and strong and living like everyone else!

It’s going to be a great year!