Ms. Wheelchair America will feature contestants from each state in the country. The winner will go on to educate and advocate for the 54+ million people in America suffering from disabilities. The competition is not a contest of beauty or wit, but a contest of presentation, communication, achievement and avocacy.
Wisconsin’s representative, Myranda Gereau, spoke with WBAW-TV 7, stating, “I found out about this when I was 16, and I’ve been looking forward to it since. It is finally happening.”
Gereau was born with muscular dystrophy, which has led to weakness across her body. She walked for the first ten years of her life, defying her outlook and doctors, who told her family she would never walk. Her body continued to weaken, leading her to live life in a wheelchair and to have tubes inserted in her trachea to help her breathe.
Gereau is using her title as Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin to tell a larger audience: “It can sometimes suck to be in a wheelchair or to have a disability, but you can do whatever you want. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t.”
She will represent her state next Sunday during the Ms. Wheelchair America competition in Eerie, Pennsylvania. She will be squaring off against 24 other titleholders, with only one of the women being crowned Ms. Wheelchair America.
Shannon Webster, Ms. Wheelchair Illinois, will compete against Gereau for the national title between August 14 and 19. Webster won her Illinois crown in October 2016. Webster was born with cerebral palsy, which led to her having to start using a wheelchair in junior high. Her disease left her with severe knee pain and eventually diminished the mobility that she had.
Webster, talking to the Daily Herald, recounts her struggles as a teen growing up with a disability.
“Now being in a pageant where that’s accepted and celebrated, I think really is a full-circle moment in my life,” states Webster. Her passion for employment for people with disabilities led her to win the crown of Ms. Wheelchair Illinois.
She insists that her role in the contest isn’t to gain recognition or even be crowned. She states that she wants to mentor people who have disabilities and feel like they can’t join corporate America or graduate from college.
Webster will work off of her employment platform during the Ms. Wheelchair America contest and also include elements that help each person find the ability in their own disability.