Hi all! I am currently in Grand Rapids, MI competing for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2019. I want to share a little more about my story and my platform - Stand for Life.
As a young child and teenager, I could never have imagined that 'paraplegic' would be a word used to describe myself, or that I would wear a tiara and speak publicly about disability rights and the importance of standing. .
I have had a spinal cord injury since I was 19 because I was the victim of a random armed robbery 30 years ago. Most of the time that I have been in a wheelchair, I have worked hard to blend in and live a “normal” life like all of my walking friends. I wanted to be a social worker, get married and raise children. I taught Sunday school, served as a room mom and many other things that I considered "normal". I did all I could to NOT draw attention to my disability. Even though I wasn't ashamed to be in a wheelchair, I wanted the focus to be on me and not the chair.
I achieved my goals: to have a fulfilling career and to raise three wonderful children. My youngest child graduated from high school this year and we suffered the tragedy of losing my husband two years ago. My amazing job at Numotion keeps me busy. Through my work, I have been able to advocate for the interests of other people with disabilities, which is my ally as a licensed clinical social worker. My passion has been advocating for my patients for 20 years and I have really enjoyed advocacy on a larger scale in recent years.
I have known the Ms. Wheelchair America organization for many years and never thought I would ever be brave enough to present myself like this. Until, I realized, I have a very important message to share that not many people talk about. The message that prompted me to become an independent delegate is the importance of standing, electrical stimulation and other technologies that keep people with SCI healthy!
Fortunately, I learned the health benefits of standing and keeping muscle tone on my legs at the Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation Hospital. Keeping my legs in shape was important for many reasons. First of all, I was a young lady and wanted to wear skirts and keep my legs shapely. Yes, I was conceited at the time but I'm still motivated to keep my legs in shape! Second, I knew that one day science would find a cure for SCI and I wanted to have the bone density and muscle to eventually benefit from this cure. And lastly, but most importantly, I wanted to live a long, healthy life. I want to be active and travel the world! I want to spend time with my grandchildren someday and get them to do amazing things. I want this for everyone living with SCI! I believe the medical community has done the SCI community a disservice by not emphasizing the importance of prevention by standing up and using other technology. The Ms. Wheelchair America organization gave me the opportunity to spread my message throughout Louisiana. I hope to have a positive impact on other people with disabilities in my state.
Ms. Wheelchair America is an organization that was founded to promote the achievements of women with disabilities. I am so proud to represent Louisiana and to sit alongside other accomplished women from all over the United States. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to share my post with others during the contest, and I feel like I'm representing all of my amazing Numotion colleagues too! Wish me good luck!!
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