Competition begins when a woman enters at the state or regional competition. These begin immediately following the crowning of a new Ms. Wheelchair USA and continue until May of the following year. State and regional titles are selected by an application package competition that is judged by a local judge’s panel. Once selected as a state or regional winner, ladies begin preparing for on-stage competitions that take place each July in Northeast, Ohio. Competitions include:
- Private Interview
- Round Robin Interview
- Evening Wear
- Platform Speech
- On-Stage Interviews
- Platform Marketing Speech
- Participation Score
For an application kit email Info@MsWheelchairUSA.org
When a woman is crowned at a state, regional, or national level, there is an expectation of commitment. A commitment to the Ms. Wheelchair USA organization, the mission of The Dane Foundation, and a commitment to the platforms of the pageant and the individual contestant. The day after the national winner is crowned, a business meeting is conducted with the new winner and MWUSA staff to determine a year-of-service plan. Of course, the plan is considerate of the new winner’s family responsibilities, employment, and educational commitments. While the organization takes all these into consideration, the new winner is expected to make a commitment to the national platform, her own platform, The Dane Foundation and growing the Ms. Wheelchair USA organization. Titleholders are expected to return to Ohio for The Dane Foundation’s events like Winter Wonderland and Project Elf and are contracted to return to the pageant the following July to crown the new winner. All other activities, appearances, and presentations are planned on a mutually agreeable schedule based on her plan-of-service.
Ms. Wheelchair USA has four national platforms.
These national platforms are, in addition to the actual mission and business of the pageant, a focus of support throughout the year. The national platforms include:
- Accessible & Boundless Playgrounds
- Accessible Travel & Wheelchair Treatment
- Conceptual Beauty
- Representation of Individuals with Disabilities in the Media
THE MS. WHEELCHAIR USA STORY
The pageant world boasts more than 4,600 pageant competitions, but only two for women with disabilities that impair their mobility. Ms. Wheelchair USA is very different from the other “disability-based” pageants. In the traditional spirit of pageantry, Ms. Wheelchair USA recognizes that all women, despite any disability, can be beautiful, glamorous, and can exhibit self-confidence in personal, professional, and public life. The women of Ms. Wheelchair USA are exciting, proud of themselves, and their accomplishments. They actively contribute to the betterment of our families, communities, and world.
Ms. Wheelchair USA has been going and growing strong since it was founded in 1997 by Ms. Lowery D. Lockard. Ms. Lockard believed that glamorous pageantry must be afforded to all women. By
providing a stage like Miss America and other well-known “beauty” pageants, she has led the charge for women with disabilities to garner opportunities for themselves, while also laying a unique foundation for disability awareness and understanding. In the beginning, the pageant was an Ohio resident only competition. The event was so successful, that people came from all over the country to watch the competition, and encouraged its expansion. Since it wasn’t fitting to have a Ms. Wheelchair Ohio USA from Kentucky or California, the national Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant was born. Its mission, “to promote glamour, self-confidence and community service; celebrating the achievements of women with disabilities.”
Some subscribe to the theory that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. According to the Ms. Wheelchair USA organization, beauty is found amongst women with disabilities that have overcome unforeseen obstacles, yet continue to offer help, encouragement, and understanding. They not only care for themselves, but believe that turning their personal storms into stories, can and will impact the world in a unique way. Women who utilize wheelchairs or other adaptive devices participate in this program, using it as a mechanism to promote the possibilities for, and the abilities of women; especially those with disabilities.
Competitions begin with the selection of state and regional representatives, judged and selected through submission of an application package. Winners then move forward to compete in a ten-day event each July held in Northeast, Ohio. There is no age limit or marital status requirement to compete. The youngest participants are eighteen years old, while the oldest, to date, seventy-two-years-amazing! Unlike other disability-based pageants, contestants must have a mobility issue, but may have use of their legs. The Ms. Wheelchair USA program does not discourage ability, but instead celebrates the individuality of the women who wear the MWUSA crowns.
The national titleholder is crowned following a week of activities, programs, learning sessions, press appearances, many rehearsals, and three nights of live on-stage production numbers and competitions. Contestants compete in private interview, round-robin interviews, evening wear, on-stage interview, platform presentation, and marketing statement competitions.
Other ancillary competitions include Ms. Photogenic, Ms. Congeniality, The Dane Foundation Quality of Life Award, The Georgia Hudson-Smith Quest for Knowledge award, and several other awards that celebrate a variety of
attributes. The winners of Ms. Wheelchair USA competitions spend their year on a state, regional and national level representing The Dane Foundation, the Ms. Wheelchair USA program, MWUSA national platforms as well as a contestant’s own platform issue or activity. There are four national platforms including the accessibility of travel, boundless playgrounds, representation of individuals with disabilities in the media, and conceptual beauty. For the new Ms. Wheelchair USA, the event culminates with a national speaking and appearance tour based on the pageant’s tenants and on the winner’s own selected platform issue. Of course there is a custom designed crown, banner, a management contract, and a prize package of gifts, gadgets, and opportunities.
In addition to the Ms. Wheelchair USA state, regional, and national competitions, the organization offers an ongoing menu of pageantry and service programs. There is the MWUSA Little Brother & Sister program for children with and without disabilities, and a year-round volunteer service programs for all ages. For contestants and titleholders, there is a Ms. Wheelchair USA Ambassador program, and a budding Ms. Wheelchair International competition. In addition to pageantry, MWUSA contestants that want to share their faith and testimony can participate in Crowns-4-Christ – The Unbroken Tour, a faith-based testimonial and inspirational touring show. Pageant-to-Purpose is open to all MWUSA titleholders. This program creates an alliance among the many winners of Ms. Wheelchair USA and its extended family. It’s designed to promote collaboration about on-going, purpose driven, projects and to enhance the contestant’s personal and professional growth. All of these ancillary opportunities continue promoting and growing MWUSA and The Dane Foundation after the actual pageant competitions are concluded.
The Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant is presented by The Dane Foundation, a nonprofit, 501C3 company with a mission of providing for “the unique needs of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.” The program is supported by donations, organizational and corporate sponsorships, contestant entry fees, donations and volunteer services. Applications open the day after the national competition concludes, and winners reign for about one year passing their titles to the next winners September 1 of their competition year.
Ms. Wheelchair USA 330.612.5242 Info@MsWheelchairUSA.org
PO Box 124 Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44222