If you follow me on Social Media, you may have noticed I was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky 2020. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure I would win or if I was even going to run. I was inspired by my friend Jenny, who also has won the title. I texted her, curious about the event and she immediately encouraged me to apply.
This past September 2019, I sent in my application and was accepted! I had two months to prepare and plan my speech. As the event approached, the anxiety set in. Thankfully I had my family and friends encouraging me.
Before I go any further, I want to be clear and share this story for anyone interested in competing in the Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky competition. It is not a “beauty pageant”, per se. What the judges are interested in the most is your advocacy, community service, personal character, and more. My motive for running for Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky was not only for advocacy, but I also wanted to meet more female wheelchair users.
In the spinal cord world, most victims are men because they are considered the higher risk, the higher the probability of an accident. If you haven’t noticed, male and female hygiene is very different. This creates more tasks for females (such as fixing hair, putting on makeup, etc) and makes independence difficult. So, by meeting more independent female wheelchair users, not only would this help my independence, but I could also build relationships.
On Friday, we met the event coordinator, Beth, and prepared for Saturday morning. Thankfully, we spent the night in Louisville which made the morning easier. Saturday morning, we met the judges, contestants, and enjoyed breakfast. It was a fun morning getting to meet everyone, but my anxiety continued to build. As we started our first workshop, individual contestants were called back to be interviewed by the judges. Each contestant was interviewed two times. I was asked questions about my optimism, accomplishments, athleticism, my community service, even topics about my favorite recipe to cook.
After the workshops and interviews, the next event was public speaking, questions on stage, and finally, the crowning. Oh my gosh, this was stressful. I’m fine with public speaking but for some reason being judged based off your performance was a whole other ball game. I was so nervous!
On the bright side, the speech was short, sweet, and about yourself. However, the questions were totally random and unknown until you are asked. This was stressful because you have no idea what type of question you would get! The only information they provided was that one was a lighthearted question and the second was serious. I started praying and hoping I didn’t puke on stage.
After our speech and questions, the judges discussed and voted for the winner.
I am so humbled and honored to have won this title and I am extremely excited for the future. I will have opportunities to advocate for accessibility, change, and more!
In August 2020, I will have the opportunity to compete at Nationals! If you would like to donate to help cover expenses for Nationals, please click here.