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Ms. Wheelchair America competition makes return to celebrate advocacy, efforts, and abilities after 2020 cancellation

Ed Schipul / Flickr
Contestants in the Ms. Wheelchair Texas pageant at the Houston Crowne Plaza 2008.

The Ms. Wheelchair America competition has made its return this week, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020. The competition celebrates the advocacy efforts, abilities and accomplishments of 30 women from across the country who use wheelchairs for mobility.

Women across the country just doing so many great things for the disabled community,” Laura Jackson said.

Laura Jackson says she hadn’t thought much about entering into the Ms. Wheelchair America competition until last year

“I’d been asked to and I was like I don’t know if that’s really my thing,” she explained.

But she’s quickly climbed the ranks, today representing her home state of Michigan in the national program.

“It’s not a beauty pageant it’s an advocacy group and that’s what I loved about it,” Jackson said.

Her platform is called “Move Your Mind,” something she says was a mantra of sorts for her, after sustaining a spinal cord injury during a cheerleading incident when she was just 14.

“I’m a C1, C2 quadriplegic, so the only thing I really can move is my head. I realized at this time to really thrive through life I was going to have to move my mind to keeping things positive, setting some goals and being fearlessly you.”

This year’s competition was moved virtual in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jackson says that hasn’t stopped her from creating lasting relationships.

“I don’t have a big community of women in wheelchairs that I know and there are 30 of us across the country. Just getting to hear these women’s advocacy efforts has really been inspiring.”

As the judging kicks off over the weekend, Jackson says she’s just happy important voices are being elevated.

“I’m really excited I think everyone wants to win, but I think everyone will be excited no matter who wins. All our platforms are important to us.”