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The Journey to Ms. Wheelchair America 2025!

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(Click here for transcript) 

Hi! I’m Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2024… and the FIRST Ms. Wheelchair Maryland from the Eastern Shore!

I’m asking for your support, if you’re able to, as I compete this summer in the Ms. Wheelchair America 2025 competition. Your donations will go to the expenses involved, such as the entry fee, the travel to drive there, lodgings, and more.

Your support will help me reach beyond the state of Maryland and give me the ability to reach a national audience. All donations — even a dollar — will make an impact! If you’re not able to donate, please don’t worry! A share is a sign that you care.

My fiscal sponsor is the Art League of Ocean City. If you want your donation to be tax deductible, you can donate to them on my behalf. Click here for the link to the Art League of OC.
 
I am so grateful for all of the support. If you’re interested in a sponsorship, please reach out!

Any additional money raised will go to the Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2025 competition and if I were to win the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2025. As the newly designated State Coordinator, I will be in charge of hosting and organizing the competitions. Again, a first for our beautiful Shore! A part of holding the title of Ms. Wheelchair America is fundraising for travel, appearances, and more.

Ms. Wheelchair America and the Ms. Wheelchair competitions are not based on beauty. Instead, it’s centered on advocacy and accomplishments.

These competitions help empower women who are wheelchair users. 

It focuses on your inner beauty, not your external. It focuses on what you bring as a woman with a disability regarding your achievements. When I competed last year and did an interview, my remark remains true. I said, “That is my definition of beautiful!”

Each state titleholder has a platform. I chose the platform: “Disability Shouldn’t Have a Price Tag.”

The price barriers to assistive technology (AT) should not exist. AT is anything — whether software or item — that helps empower a person with a disability. That includes adapted vehicles, mobility devices and durable medical equipment, and so much more.

The cost of an adapted vehicle, for example, is anywhere from 50-70K!! The cost of modifying a vehicle to make it an adapted vehicle is 30K! Similarly, insurance rarely covers hearing aids, but their average price is close to 5K.

This is not even focusing on the costs of home modifications, equipment like hospital beds, or braille readers. There are so many tools that enable a better quality of life for disabled people, but are too costly. This is something that I want to change and I am determined to do so!

We often talk about architectural and societal barriers, but rarely educate that cost is a huge barrier. The same way that the cost of personal care attendants and medical bills, as quick examples, are a part of the cost barrier problem. Disability, unfortunately, comes with a price tag — and one that disabled people shouldn’t have to face.

As Ms. Wheelchair Maryland, I’ve been able to channel my passion for removing barriers for individuals with disabilities and my passion for AT.

Some of the coolest things that I’ve done so far are:

  • being 1 of 3 panelists at a Hill briefing on assistive technology
  • being a speaker for tween and teen girls
  • attend the largest disability expo in the DMV area


And I’ve done things I love, too:

  • volunteering
  • a poetry reading
  • attend local community events

I’ve been able to do all the things that I love to do — and raise awareness. I can’t wait to do more! This is just the beginning!

The Journey to Becoming an Advocate:

At 17, I started my website: The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.

I felt isolated and overwhelmed by becoming a full-time wheelchair user. Instead of me, people seemed to notice the girl in the wheelchair. I didn’t have any resource that allowed me to still feel confident and understood the complexity of being a disabled female.

I was certain there were others like me, teen girls, women, or girls in wheelchairs, who felt the same. With that in mind, I created my website.

I found out during that time that help others not only brought me happiness but also felt like my calling.

Since then, my platform has grown. The same way that my advocacy has grown. It is an ongoing journey and I love every minute of this ride!

About Me:

I have a neuromuscular disease. These genes are rare, just like my personality. I want other disabled people, especially women and girls, to realize that they can accomplish their dreams. This is especially true for women and girls who have progressive disabilities.

Advocacy is one of the kindest things you can do. Nothing brings me more joy than showing kindness and care for others.


I’m a Commissioner on the Maryland Commission on Disabilities and Chair of the Maryland Technology Loan Board Program. I serve, and have served, on various local and state-wide non-profit boards, committees, and more.

I’m passionate about being the best example of accessibility that I can. It’s why I advocate for every single person with a disability.

No matter what space I am in, I’m an advocate for all.

I make a commitment to make sure rural disabled voices have representation. The same for those with rare diseases like mine.

When I’m not doing disability advocacy, a huge passion of mine is the arts. The arts are close to my heart, and I firmly believe in their inclusivity. No matter how you make art, it’s healing and art!

I love visual and fiber arts, drawing, and digital arts.

My favorite medium is writing. It’s a passion that runs deep. I’m even a published poet! Spoken word performances are my absolute favorite.

When I’m not involved in a new creative hobby, some of my favorite hobbies are: reading, star-gazing, volunteering, genealogy, learning new things, and picking up new hobbies… (Ha. Ha.)

Thank you! Truly!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me, donate (if possible) and or share!

One thing that I’m most committed to is making the world better for people with disabilities.

Even though people with disabilities face immense barriers, I am dedicated to educating others on them. The first step to bridging gaps is to have the conversation.

Disability is not a bad word. We are all learning to be better people every day. The first step is having those conversations.

Accessibility to me is love… and I have so much love to give!

I’m full of gratitude to represent Maryland in the Ms. Wheelchair 2025 competition.

I have even more gratitude for the incredible people in my life — friends, family, or soon to be friends — for their support of this new journey of mine.

Donate

Donations 

  • Richard Bauernschub and Mirande Bissell
    • $50 
    • 19 hrs
  • Lori Berrong
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 5 d
  • Jeffrey Le
    • $200 
    • 5 d
  • Shannon Minnick
    • $85 
    • 15 d
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Organizer

D Sessa
Organizer
Salisbury, MD

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