Women with disabilities, including those who use the best electric wheelchair, want to be thought of as beautiful and even glamorous, and that’s the opportunity that the Ms. Wheelchair competition gives them.
Pittsburgh resident Heather Tomko was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA 2018 on Saturday at a competition in Ohio.
Ten women from around the country participated in the pageant held in Cuyahoga Falls, WKYC reported.
“Obviously the crown, that’s the glamour that’s the pageant piece of it,” said Lowery Lockard, CEO & Founder Ms. Wheelchair USA & The Dane Foundation. “But that crown is certainly just a representation of everything that these ladies accomplish.”
The pageant started as a state competition more than 20 years ago when it was Ms. Wheelchair Ohio, but it has since grown to the national level.
“This is a platform for information, inspiration and for opportunities. And to meet other women with disabilities,” said Lockard.”They all have stories and add something different to table and something different to offer.
Tomko, a graduate of Carneg was named Miss Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA in April.
At a ceremony in Ohio on Saturday night, she was named Miss Wheelchair USA and also won Invacare People’s Choice Award and the Dr. Georgi Hudson Smith Quest for Knowledge Award.
Tomko, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical and biomedical engineering, was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neuromuscular disease. She is
currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant recognizes that all women, despite any disability, can be beautiful, feel glamorous, and be self-confident, and can actively contribute to their families, communities and world.
Although there are more than 4,600 pageant competitions, only two are for women with disabilities, according to the organization’s website.
Ms. Wheelchair USA features a professionally-produced live telecast and unique menu of competitions.
Ms. Wheelchair USA was founded more than 22 years ago as a state competition in Ohio, then, encouraged by the positive response, the organization launched it into a national contest. The week-long national finals are held each July in Ohio.
Finalists compete in a variety of competitions, including interviews, a speech presentation, evening wear, on-stage questions and a marketing statement competition.