Working to turn dreams into goals
As we start a new semester and the piles of homework begin to form, most of us are one step closer to obtaining a degree and perhaps finding that dream job.
During my senior year here at Grand Valley State University, I was fortunate enough to receive an opportunity unlike any other. An opportunity that came about on March 3, 2012 when I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Michigan. Ms. Wheelchair Michigan is not a title I will hold for more than a year, but having the chance to advocate for the more 54 million Americans living with disabilities has been a once in a lifetime experience.
Before I get too far ahead of myself though, I thought I’d take a moment and get everyone caught up on what my first seven months as a titleholder has entailed. My main focal point throughout my reign has been to help others with disabilities gain resources they need in order to turn their dreams into goals. Weather someone is striving towards health, education, employment or leadership goals; it is my goal help them see the possibilities in life rather than limitations.
One of the things I always tell people is “life isn’t about the things you may never have the chance to accomplish, it’s about the opportunities you have in front of you.”
Since being crowned, I have had the opportunity to plan, attend or speak at 35 different events. I have pushed beyond perceptions that society may have about a person with a disability by participating in adaptive skydiving event, meeting with Gov. Snyder, planning recreational events for people with disabilities and speaking at various hospitals and schools.
In August, I was able to represent the state of Michigan in the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant in Providence, Rhode Island where I was named second runner-up.
During the week long competition, 28 ladies from across the United States came together to participate in workshops that were designed to help us grow as advocates and learn about different services we could bring back to our own states to help others with disabilities. Aside from workshops, each contestant gave a two-minute platform speech and was also judged during 25 minutes of private interview sessions.
One of the unique aspects about Ms. Wheelchair America and Ms. Wheelchair Michigan organization is that beauty is not judged. The program is designed to recognize the achievement and advocacy abilities of women in wheelchairs.
With the national competition behind us, all 28 women have returned home with life-long friendships, stories to share and new goals in mind.
The biggest message I hope people of all abilities take away from my time as Ms. Wheelchair Michigan is that we all face obstacles and we all have our own aspirations. Regardless of our situation, it is important to keep moving passed any hurdle life throws our way because that hurdle may lead us on a new adventure.
Throughout out the next several months I will be writing weekly blogs for the Lanthorn online, discussing current topics affecting people with and without disabilities and my reign as Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2012.
Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2012