Ms Wheelchair Florida 2013 - WFLA News Channel 8

Ms Wheelchair Florida pageant set for this weekend

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It seems there are pageants of every kind, but one in particular taking place in the Bay area this weekend is different. Saturday, April 6th, the 2013 Ms Wheelchair Florida will be crowned in St. Petersburg.

"We have a weekend of educational workshops, we have workshops on public speaking, disability policy, health and wellness," said Shari Wilson the 2008 Ms Wheelchair Florida and now state coordinator.

Wilson said this is a contest that serves as a platform for women in all of Florida's 67 counties who have disabilities.

 "It's an opportunity for the women to be able to educate and advocate for all people with disabilities. So whether you have a physical disability or visual impairment, whether you're deaf or hard of hearing, these women will be able to go out and essentially talk to policymakers, parents, teachers and community partners about inclusion and about advocacy," Wilson said.

A Winter Haven native, Wilson has Dermatomyositis. According to the Mayo Clinic web site, it's an uncommon inflammatory disease marked by muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash. It affects both adults and children. But she said, never let it stop her and hopes no woman in a wheelchair allows a disability to stop her either.

To compete, each woman must utilize a wheelchair 100% of her daily mobility, must be a U.S. citizen between 21 and 60 years old, and have lived in Florida for at least six months before the pageant.

The Ms Wheelchair Florida pageant is a part of Ms Wheelchair America which started in 1972. It's a non-profit program staffed and coordinated by volunteers. During her reign Ms Wheelchair Florida will travel across the state speaking to community groups and businesses, the general public and the legislature.

The pageant will take place Saturday April 6th at 7 p.m. at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park at 950 Lake Carillon Dr. There is a weekend full of events for the ten contestants who've entered this year. The admission is $10 a person.

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