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Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2023, Chandra Smith

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In January, I was honored to be crowned Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2023, winning this advocacy competition on the platform: “Accessibility Starts With Us.” My platform will provide greater education and awareness of incorporating accessibility throughout the design process in both the physical and virtual realms. Ultimately, I hope to highlight and raise awareness that when you design for disabilities, you make things better for everyone. I have created this GoFundMe to ask my friends, family, and supporters around the globe to help take me to Ms. Wheelchair America National’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the fall of 2023.

Let me tell you about my journey and how I arrived at where I am today:

A year ago, I became a Triple Amputee and Sepsis Survivor. A year ago, I was given a 1% chance of survival. Even after losing my left hand and right leg and enduring more than ten surgeries on my left leg, I refused to give up. I decided to fight. I will continue to fight to change the conversation with society about disabilities. It’s not a conversation about overcoming deficiencies. It’s a conversation about celebrating and unlocking human potential. I have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and my disability has not stopped me from achieving my goals. My story is of challenge and faith–not merely roadblocks or tragedy. I want to do something about institutional and socio-economic problems that we face in the workplace and the community and use my talents and skills to change the situation and make a difference.

With 1 in 4 people suffering from a disability globally, representing nearly 1 billion people, we cannot afford to ignore the needs of those in the disability community. Unfortunately, anyone can become a part of this community for any reason, which is why we must pay attention to many critical issues affecting those with disabilities today.

Equity means promoting just and fair inclusion throughout society and creating the conditions in which everyone can participate, prosper and reach his or her full potential. Disability advocacy illustrates the outsize benefits that accrue to everyone from policies and investments designed to achieve equity. The country must choose: Will we make these investments? Will we ensure everyone can access the essentials for productive lives— jobs and reliable transportation? Or will we neglect entire communities and waste the talents and potential of tens of millions of people?

There’s no choice. We must focus on promoting public awareness and partnering with policymakers to create systematic change in addressing topics that affect people with disabilities. For example, the US healthcare system, community living, Social Security, education, and employee equity.

I believe these barriers have plagued the disability community for far too long. Disability issues don’t just affect disabled people. We need to shift our thinking to a new understanding where society takes responsibility for enabling inclusion.

We can and will create an equitable society.

Please check out my Facebook page: Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2023, to explore all of the work I have engaged in and what I’m up to daily!

After winning Ms. Wheelchair Maryland and being crowned the titleholder for 2023, I’m now set to compete against 35 states in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in August 2023. I’m asking my friends, family, and supporters to help sponsor me to attend this event. The 10,000 will go towards my entrance fee, travel, and hotel. The additional funds raised will go towards Ms. Wheelchair Maryland's organization to support many women like me with disabilities that face incredible challenges daily and many of us who still find ways to give back to our community because we won’t settle for less.

Ms. Wheelchair America is an advocacy competition, not a beauty competition, which celebrates the advocacy achievements of women with physical mobility impairments. To my surprise, not many people know about this competition, and I kindly ask you to contribute even the smallest of donations, but I want to spread awareness of what this composition stands for. It stands for powerful women with disabilities fighting for change in their communities.

This is what the competition is all about and why I am creating a GoFundMe page – to spread awareness, promote advocacy, and change the world!
We need to make every single thing assessable to every single person with a disability. Thank you so much in advance for your support!

Chandra Smith, Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2023
Shannon Minnick, Ms. Wheelchair Maryland Assistant Coordinator


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Shannon Minnick
Brandywine, MD

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