Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Congratulations Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014

Here we are at the "big day."  This is the day I say my thank yous and farewells and Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014 is crowned and begins her exciting year.  We all get the benefit of pampering time so we look beautiful and the ladies get time to practice the ceremony and talk with steering committee members to help calm their nerves.  (As much as possible anyway).  :)  This year was even more memorable since it was the 10th crowning ceremony.  We celebrated the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas program, our amazing State Coordinator, and many of the previous title holders were on hand at the ceremony to help celebrate and even brought their crowns and sashes for display.  Thank you Carrie for all you have done for the program to help it get to its 10th anniversary.  I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Here are some pics from the event

The judges: Jaime Slack, Kenny Foust, and Alice Zhang
 and judge coordinator: Rebecca Branam

Waiting . . .
Congratulating Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014, Brigid Schwilling
The three lovely contestants:
Keara Hockman, Brigid Schwilling, & Jessica Soderlund

Adding the boys: Hagid and Grady  :)
Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014, Brigid Schwilling
and previous titleholders:
MWKS 2004 Carrie Greenwood
MWKS 2005  JoAnne Fluke
MWKS 2006  Ranita Wilks
MWKS 2008  Amanda Steiner
MWKS 2009 Marie Clement
MWKS 2010 Tiffany Nickel
MWKS 2011 Jennifer Kreutzer
MWKS 2013 Angel Shaver

Me and Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014, Brigid Schwilling

Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014
Brigid Schwilling

Congratulations Brigid!  I hope you have an exciting year filled with lots of adventure and sharing the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas mission and your platform around the state.  You have joined an amazing sisterhood.  Don't for one minute think you are alone out there.  Feel free to use the resources of the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas organization.  Good luck this year and know we are all here for you.

This post will close my blog.  This is a bittersweet moment.  I'm am thrilled for Brigid and can't wait to hear all about what this year has in store for her.  Finishing this blog is my final official duty as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2013.  Posting this will mean I'm closing the door on one chapter of my life.  But, I think I'm ready.  The second grade class asked me if I would be sad.  And, I meant it when I told them that I was excited to add another titleholder to the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas sisterhood.  I will always and forever be Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2013 and will always be a part of this amazing program.

Come to the Kansas Sampler Festival in Wamego, May 3&4 to see me, meet Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014 on Saturday, and see the debut of the amazing new Ms. Wheelchair Kansas display created by Eric Shaver.  :)

To learn more about Ms. Wheelchair Kansas and keep up with their events, you can visit their or follow them on Facebook

My passion for my platform, "Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude" did not end in March.  That is a passion I will continue to hold and share forever.  Keep being thankful no matter what happens in life.

Thankful thoughts for today:
Getting an answer

"Life is full of give and take.  Give thanks and take NOTHING for granted."
                                                                    Author Unknown

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Adding to the Sisterhood

Here it is.  What has become one of my favorite times of year.  I look forward to this weekend every year.    I can't wait to see, in person, the women who have become part of the sisterhood of women who helped me learn how to live a successful life with my wheelchair.  I absolutely love a weekend where I don't have to think about accessibility for one minute.  I love heading into the room and there already being spaces for wheelchairs at every table.  I love not having to physically manipulate obstacles.  And, if there happen to be any, everyone is working to make sure they don't exist.  I love the familiarity of seeing old friends.  And, I love the chance to meet new friends and add women to the sisterhood.  :)

This year was a slightly different experience since I am Ms. Wheelchair 2013.  I had the privilege of getting to meet the amazing contestants, two of whom I had the chance to meet before.  I had the chance to get to spend time with them and share what I had learned throughout this year.  I loved answering questions and just getting to know these amazing women.  I hope they plan to remain connected and a permanent part of the sisterhood.

On Saturday, we got the chance to give back after a full day of judging and sessions for the ladies.  We got to work together and make a meal for the Ronald McDonald House.  It is always telling to work side by side with someone and I love the bonding that happens during that experience.  A big thank you to the steering committee for making that happen smoothly.  Even a little rain didn't dampen our spirits.  In fact, a little rain in Kansas is often a welcome event.  :)   After the Ronald McDonald House was the opportunity to share some more bonding and girl time with the party in my suite.  :)  That is a moment I've been looking forward to all year.  I love when we can all relax and just enjoy our time together.

Some more bonding pictures from the weekend:
Dinner Friday Night 
Breakfast Saturday morning
Enjoying the sisterhood on Saturday

Stay tuned for my post about the Crowning Ceremony and Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014

Thankful thoughts for today:
Easy fix to problem

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues."
                                                                        Marcus Tullius Cicero

Friday, March 28, 2014

Heading Home on Fire

All the pressure of the week is over and the new Ms. Wheelchair American 2014 has been crowned.  Now, it is time to get together for the Queen's Breakfast, say our good-byes, get one last gift that will remind us forever of this week, and head home.  What an amazing time to get to see all these wonderful ladies one last time in Houston before heading to our separate states to continue our work as Ms. Wheelchair title holders in our respective states.

Our gift was a crown necklace that I have worn almost every day and especially when I have appearances.  It reminds me of the amazing sisterhood I have established nation wide and the important work all of us have done and will continue to do.  I lost my necklace in January and almost had a melt down.  Thankfully a store clerk found it, knew it must be important, and saved it for me until I retraced my steps and found it.  Thank you to that store clerk and to my cousin for heading into that store and asking about it for me.  It's hard to think about an inanimate object being so important, but it's really about what it represents.  This has been an amazing year and I love the tangible reminder of all that the Ms. Wheelchair America program does for this country.  I'm proud to be a part of it.

Now, it's back to Kansas and back to work.  That is really why it took me so long to finish my posts from this week.   I hope my previous posts will show that I came back and didn't rest.  I took my job as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas seriously and my mission to spread my platform of "Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude" around the state.  I left the Ms Wheelchair America weekend with a renewed mission to get my platform to as many Kansans as I possibly could.  I saw a sign in a rest stop on the way home that said, "I am the Queen of my neighborhood."  That has been my mission.  I am Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2013 and I have a job to do.  I am heading home on fire!

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Moving forward
The Voice
People to help  when needed

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
                                                                     Thornton Wilder

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Night You've All Been Waiting For

Nothing like 8 months late, but here it is . . . the Night You've All Been Waiting For.

The day was filled with primping and pampering.  Speech night was over, so speech practice was also over.  In fact, nerves were pretty much gone.  I faced this night knowing I had done the best I could to let the judges see the real me and shared my passion with the nation the night before.  Now, there was no real preparation to be done.  If I am chosen in the top five, I answer the judges' questions honestly on stage and just hope I don't throw up.  :)  We are eating dinner before hand after all--maybe that's why I seemed to pick at my dinner.

My pampering was quite an adventure this time.  My make-up artist did a great job of listening and doing just what I asked.  My hair was another story.  I asked my hair dresser to leave my hair at least part way down and work with my natural curls.  The hair dresser pulled out a straightening iron and straightened my hair.  When I commented about "I thought we were going to work with my curls?"  I was told they would curl my hair after it was straightened.  Didn't make sense to me, but I guess whatever.  So, they straightened my hair, and then curled it, and pulled it back and made a row of cinnamon roll type buns around my head.  It was a little too adventurous for me.  So, I looked around the room and found another contestant's hair that I like and asked my hair dresser to copy that.  So, she did and here is the final result.

Then, the night arrives and we all look beautiful.  And, the hotel room was gorgeous.  Check out the pictures of the glamour we all got to experience.  It was during the pre-crowning ceremony that I really felt like a national pageant contestant.  We all got to vote for Miss Congeniality.  I remember as a little girl, that was my goal--to win Miss Congeniality at a National Pageant.  Well, I didn't win, but I sure had fun getting to vote. Congratulations to Ms. Wheelchair Alabama, Paula Montgomery Rodney.

The crowning ceremony begins.  They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so here we go:
Little Miss Wheelchair Texas
Lining up

Introducing myself, my state, and my platform

The top five:  Ms Wheelchair Tennessee, Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky,
Ms. Wheelchair Washington, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts, and
Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey

And the winner is . . .

Ms. Wheelchair Washington
Jenny Adams!!!

Congratulations Jenny!  I was privileged to get to spend time with Jenny during the week.  We were speach practice partners and I spent time enjoying meals with her and Lindsay with my family.  We all love you and were thrilled when you were crowned.  Come visit us in Kansas sometime.  :)

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Power chair
When it all comes together

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily."
                                   Gerald Good

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Texas Hospitality

Now I have never experienced another Ms. Wheelchair America, but I was so impressed by how it was handled in Texas.  The helpers were always available when you needed them and always very friendly and at least pretended patience.  Thank you Ms. Wheelchair Texas program, Angela Wrigglesworth, and all other Texas volunteers for making this an amazing week.

We even got presents every morning at breakfast.  Now, if there was an edible part, it is most definitely gone, but I wanted to share pictures of some of what we got and the amazing stories that came with them every morning.  Now, I don't really remember exactly what we got each day, so here they are in no particular order.  :)

Our gift at check-in.  It got us all ready to wear a hat to
Cowboy night if we didn't already have one.  :)
The Cowboy Bandanna
Getting us ready for Mexican night.
The chips and salsa are long gone.  :)
Learning a little more about the
Lone Star State and its flag
This one came with a cupcake.
Also, long gone.  :)
My favorite.
It also came with a Dr. Pepper that was
gone quickly.  :)
An amazing memento from the Museum
We also received amazing crown necklaces at the Queen's Breakfast which I don't have a photo of.  You can see it around my neck at appearances after Ms. Wheelchair America and see it in person if you are at the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014 Crowning Ceremony.

Thanks again Texas for making us feel so welcome and providing a week I will never forget.  :)

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:  
Crossing items off a list
Dr. Pepper

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
                                                                     Thornton Wilder

Preparing the Army Part 2

Another basic training preparing the army.  Only this time, it was on a much larger scale.  I will leave this week in Houston with a much larger group of soldiers from across the country I can call on when I need them.  We are all in this army together.  Check out my blog post about my first basic training for this "army."

I can't even begin to tell you all the amazing learning and bonding that was happening this week in Houston.  As I got to know the girls a little bit better and got to meet some of the presenters, I spent my time learning just which soldiers I could call on for which needs.  It's nice to have an arsenal at my disposal that stretches across the nation, not just in Kansas.  

It was during these sessions that I got to hear from big name people in the disability community--those who are working hard to see that our rights continue to be upheld.  It was during this time that I was encouraged to develop my own YouTube channel to let people know what Ms. Wheelchair Kansas was up to every week or so.  Well, I came home on fire and started my YouTube Channel.  I'm a little embarrassed to report that I did let it fall by the wayside.  I think that is not my form of communication.  That's my excuse anyway.  :)

I was a very proud Kansan to hear a session by our own Ms. Wheelchair Kansas Coordinator, Carrie Greenwood.  She talked about the history of the disability community.  History has never been my favorite subject, but I learned a lot and loved hearing from Carrie.  

It is also during this week that I was reminded the I am a queen.  I have a crown.  I can effect marvelous things in my state.  And, that is just what I plan to do.  Not just this year, but every year for the rest of my life.  As Juliette Rizzo reminded us in the words of Delta Burke from Designing Women, "Once Miss Georgia, always Miss Georgia,"  So, once Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, always Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  And we should all be proud of our titles and never stop representing our state and this amazing program.

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:
Power chair
Shellac Manicure

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily."
                                   Gerald Good

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We All Share Our Message

We have arrived to what I consider the most important part of the week.  No, we're not at the Crowning Ceremony yet, that will come later.  We are at Speech Night.  We are at the night that all contestants get to share what they are passionate about and what they will be sharing with their state and with America should they get the title Ms. Wheelchair America 2014.  And, both big events are available on the Internet, so we will all be sharing our platform with the nation.  I will not just be speaking to the room full of audience members and other contestants, I will be speaking to listeners across the country.  This is the opportunity to share what is on my heart with my largest audience to date.
Some of our cowboy escorts.  Mine asked me, "Ms.
Kansas, do you know Dorothy Gayle?"  He seemed impressed that
I knew who that was and knew that there was more than one
book about Oz and am currently reading Book 4.
We did have time to practice our speeches before the big night.  I am honored to say my practice partner was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2014.  I'll tell you who she is in my post about the Crowning Ceremony.  Her speech was amazing and really shared her passion of Inclusion Revolution.  I remember the most nerve wracking part of the whole experience was the timing.  I practiced over and over to say what I wanted to tell the world in 2 minutes or less.  I even paused for a count of 2 seconds to let them really focus on the challenge I had just given them.

Waiting to give our speeches
Now that I've been home, I've been hearing about those who joined in listening.  I'm sure there were listeners for every contestant.  But, I know for sure people listened in four different states just to cheer me on.  It sure helps to have friends and family across the nation.  :)

One of the best parts is getting hair and make-up done for the event.  And, I'm pleased to say they listened to what I wanted and did a fabulous job.  They even did a great job including my peacock barrette.

 Following the speeches, we got to enjoy dessert and conversation time with the audience.  We also had a chance to have our photo taken on the red carpet.  :)  I felt like such a celebrity.

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:
BBQ RV parked in town

"I am thankful that the is no success gained without hard work and sacrifice."