banner

The New Stuff

kim-brown-cover
639 Views

Former Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Continues to be a Voice for the Community


Editor’s Note: Born with spina bifida, Kim Brown has been a full-time wheelchair user since the 5th grade. After earning two master’s degrees and a successful career teaching in Chicago Public Schools for nearly two decades, opportunity knocked in 2012 when she was named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois. During her reign, she was invited to speak at a charity golf outing put on by Commonwealth Edison. Leaving a big impression on her audience that day, the largest utility provider in the state offered her a job as a senior business analyst. Today, while honing her leadership skills at the workplace, she also happily uses them as the Illinois state coordinator for the Ms. Wheelchair America Organization to help new candidates and titleholders become a voice for the wheelchair community.  

My Reign as Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America

kim-brown2

In 2012, my physical therapist introduced me to someone who was recruiting wheelchair users to become advocates for persons with disabilities through the Ms. Wheelchair Illinois program. I thought hard about it and decided it was the right time to share my story, so I registered for the competition. To run, you have to present a platform, and mine was pushing for changes in state legislation that affect wheelchair users and focusing on disability awareness.

kim-3I ended up winning, and as Ms. Wheelchair Illinois, I had a great opportunity to go down to our Capitol in Springfield to lobby for wheelchair reform and fight for changes in Medicare and Medicaid alongside three major wheelchair companies located in the state. At that time, it took up to three months to get basic wheelchair repairs done, and we pushed to reduce that. Changes have been made since then, but there is still a lot of work to do. It saddens me that our legislators don’t understand the importance of our equipment.

My reign as Ms. Wheelchair Illinois was one of the best years of my life.

I got to meet so many different people. Unfortunately, I wasn’t crowned Ms. Wheelchair America, but I did win the People’s Choice award. Before the competition, people go online and vote for their favorite candidate for a $1 donation. I found out at nationals that I had won that award!

What Is Ms. Wheelchair America?

shannon-crowning

The Ms. Wheelchair America organization is completely volunteer based.

It’s important to note that it is not a beauty pageant; it’s an advocacy pageant.

The competition is a weeklong process where contestants have multiple interviews with judges to talk about their chosen platform and what they would do as Ms. Wheelchair America.

kim

Editor’s Note: Ms. Wheelchair America’s mission as stated on their website mswheelchairamerica.org is:

kim-2“The mission of Ms. Wheelchair America is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike traditional beauty pageants, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive individual. It is instead a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities. The selected representative must be able to communicate both the needs and the accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business community and the legislature.”

For more information on who is eligible to participate and how candidates are judged, see the below brochure or contact your state coordinator. If your state does not participate, there may still be an opportunity for you to run as an independent delegate. Contact president@mswheelchairamerica.org for more information.

Check out the Ms. Wheelchair America brochure HERE.

My Current Involvement With Ms. Wheelchair America

shannon-expoIn 2015, I took over as the coordinator for the state of Illinois. My responsibilities include heading the fundraising efforts and hosting the state pageant, which is coming up on October 21, 2017. I’m very fortunate that Commonwealth Edison, my employer, is sponsoring the Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America pageant this year. They really embrace diversity and inclusion, so we are grateful to have them on board.

It is also my job to guide Ms. Wheelchair Illinois during her reign, which includes helping her with appearances and assisting her with fundraising, so she can compete at nationals. The entry fee costs $2000, which includes lodging and meals for the contestant and a companion for the week, so raising money to compete takes a lot of work.

What Does Ms. Wheelchair America Do?

kim-crowning

Any appearances Ms. Wheelchair America does throughout her reign are based on her platform. If she’s looking to educate, she might go speak at schools. If she’s looking for legislative changes, she might try to work with congress people. If she’s advocating for employment rights, she’ll go into various companies and talk about hiring persons with disabilities. It all depends on her platform.

Spreading the Wordimage007

For the state of Illinois, we do our big push to recruit women at Abilities Expo Chicago. We also promote the pageant on Facebook, by word of mouth, and on the Ms. Wheelchair America website. We’re always looking to get more states involved because we’re only at around 28 currently.

When I was running, I was on Fox News and was able to spread the word about the program before I went to nationals. Our current Ms. Illinois was also on a local news channel before heading to nationals last month.

Why Compete?

Competing gives you the chance to be a voice for people with disabilities in your state. This is not about outer beauty. It’s about advocating for and bringing about change.

If you are passionate about something, I would encourage you to compete. If you’re an Illinois resident, I will be there along the way to help you!

ms-wheelchair

Editor’s Note: Anyone women residing in Illinois who wish to compete in the Ms. Wheelchair Illinois pageant may contact Kim Brown at kbrown1676@aol.com. She may also be contacted for information on volunteering and donating to the program.

Follow Ms. Wheelchair Illinois on Facebook, and Ms. Wheelchair America on Facebook and Twitter, or visit their website.

About the Authorbetsy-bailey-headshot

Betsy Bailey has a diverse background including experience in marketing research at American Express, business operations and client relations with 601am, travel and culinary writing with VegDining, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.

Betsy is excited to get back into writing, something she’s adored since childhood, and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. On top of her work with Wheel:Life, she also teaches students learning English as a second language, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!

An Offer from Coloplast

coloplast-logoColoplast develops products and services to make life easier for people with deeply personal and private medical conditions. These conditions are often associated with trauma and taboo. The more intimate the condition, the greater the requirement to come closer to customers, understand their world and develop solutions that are sensitive to their special needs. We call this Intimate Healthcare. Our business includes Ostomy Care, Continence Care, Wound & Skin Care and, Urology Care. We operate globally and our organization is more than 10,000 people strong. Learn more at www.coloplast.com.

The new flexible coudé tip catheter designed to make everyday cathing easier!

Visit our website to watch our video and learn how Kevan, grandfather of three, found discretion and an easier way to cath with SpeediCath® Flex Coudé.

Coloplast Speedi Cath

Recently Published

adaptive-climbing-10
»

Making Adaptive Climbing More Accessible with Arthur Torrey

Editor’s Note: When a tree-cutting accident in 2010 led to broken ...

woman on wheelchair entering the platform
»

Barbara Cramer – 75 Years of Defying Stereotypes

Editor’s Note: Barbara Ann Roose Cramer was born during World War ...

falmouth-road-race-2017
»

Serving the Spina Bifida Community with the SBAGNE

I serve as the executive director of the SBAGNE. One of my primary ...

spinal-cord-injury-720x400
»

Comfort Medical is Helping People to Achieve a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

If you’re an avid Wheel:Life reader, you may remember that we ...

stephanie-woodward-9
»

Advocating for Disability Rights with Stephanie Woodward and CDR

Editor’s Note: During a summer internship at the Center for ...

handi-capable-fitness8
»

Building Strength and Confidence with Handi Capable Fitness

Editor’s Note: A botched hernia operation during infancy left James ...

adaptive-bike1
»

Comfort Medical Sponsors Freedom Concepts to Help You Win An Adaptive Bike

Have you always dreamt of gliding down the street with the wind in ...

abilities-expo-toronto-2
»

Experience It All At the Abilities Expo!

Days are becoming shorter, nights longer, and the holiday season is ...

me_northeast-passage
»

ParaSportsLive: Bringing Adaptive Sports Coverage to the World

Editor’s Note:  When wheelchair user Tony Jackson’s original ...

cure-medical-october
»

Introducing the New Cure Ultra Coude Intermittent Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra® Coude ...

each-by-name-1
»

Get Ready for Rolling With Me’s Each By Name Conference

Wheel:Life, Comfort Medical, and Rolling With Me is excited to ...

smooth-sailing-with-david-gaston9
»

Smooth Sailing with David Gaston

Editor’s Note:  A Texas coast native, David Gaston has been in and ...

Husband and handicapped wife taking stroll in park alley
»

Gain Traction This Fall with National Ramp

Summer is officially over and dreary winter weather is on its way. ...

wheelchair-dance-organization-21
»

Wheelchair Dancers Organization Says Everybody Can Dance!

When life-long dancer Beverly Weurding was diagnosed with limb-girdle ...

malaise-wheelchair-fitness4
»

Pursuing Health and Happiness with Malaise Wheelchair Fitness

Editor’s Note: Justin Malaise grew up in small-town Wisconsin as a ...

kim-brown-cover
»

Former Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Continues to be a Voice for the Community

Editor’s Note: Born with spina bifida, Kim Brown has been a ...

img_00261
»

Dare to Discover the World of Accessible Travel With Handiscover

Editor’s Note: Sebastien Archambeaud has always loved traveling, so ...

pediatric-hydrophilic-cure-catheter1
»

Made for Kids! The Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter + Free Backpack Program

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them ...

jhudson-featured
»

Wheeling, Driving, Bowling, Preaching, Parenting…Johnny Hudson Does It All Hands-free!

Editor’s Note: Johnny Hudson was born in 1977 with unforeseen ...

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.
»

The Abilities Expo is Coming To Boston!

Boston awaits with open arms. This September 8–10, head over to the ...

margarita-7
»

Comfort Conversations: Change Starts with You – Becoming an Advocate

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

wheelchairtravel14
»

WheelchairTravel.org: Blazing the Trail Towards an Accessible World  

Editor’s Note: After sustaining severe burns during a car accident ...

ag-featured
»

The Artfully Gifted Foundation – Serving Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: The Artfully Gifted Foundation (a non-profit) was ...

jose-gonzalez-on-how-the-scrs-il-can-help-you-live-independently24
»

How the SCRS-IL Can Help You Live Independently

Editor’s Note: When triple degree holder Jose Gonzalez returned ...

peter-arballo-1
»

Peter Arballo Never Gave Up on Himself — Neither Should You

Editor’s Note: Peter Arballo was born in Southern California to ...

michael-johnson-racing-8
»

Full Speed Ahead with Endurance Racer Michael Johnson

Editor’s Note: Michael Johnson of Lansing, Michigan, started racing ...

monica-vickers9
»

The Extraordinary Life of Triple Amputee Monica Vickers

Editor’s Note: Monica Vickers was born in 1954 missing both legs ...

rick-hayden-rolls-on-capitol-hill-for-your-rights1
»

Rick Hayden Rolls on Capitol Hill for Your Rights

When Rick Hayden visited the US Capitol last week, he went with your ...

abilities-expo-chicago-2017
»

Gear Up for Abilities Expo Chicago

Calling all Midwesterners — Abilities Expo is coming to Chicago! As ...

angel-city-sports-12
»

Run, Jump, and Throw Stuff with Angel City Sports

Editor’s Note: Clayton Frech is the CEO and founder of Los ...

1coach-koz2
»

Sled Hockey with Coach Koz

Editor’s Note: Sled hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is almost ...

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL
»

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL

Editor’s Note: Mary Marshall, founder of STYLEDWEL, created ...

kristina-rhoades11
»

Following Your Inner Guidance with Kristina Rhoades and How National Ramp is Helping Her Do It

Editor’s Note: Kristina Rhoades is a mom, wife, speaker, writer, ...

men who use wheelchairs
»

Comfort Conversations: Finding Encouragement Through Peer Support Groups

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

wheellife1
»

Allen Beauchamp on Life, Love and Hockey

My name is Allen Beauchamp, and I’m 43 years old. I live in a ...

altolife9
»

Yoocan Get Empowered!

Editor’s Note: Inspired by a family member with disabilities, Moshe ...

cure-medical-catheter
»

Introducing the Cure Ultra: Ready to Use Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra™ Intermittent ...

manual-wheelchair-skills-800
»

Refuel and Rejuvenate At Abilities Expo New York Metro

East coasters, or anyone within striking distance, gear up for ...

criptado7
»

Criptaedo: Breaking Boards and Barriers

Editor’s note: Paul Brailer, aka Criptaedo, was born with spina ...

stella5_small
»

Rolling Forward with Amputee Advocate Stella Sieber

I’m currently 63 years old and live in Durham, North Carolina. ...

mallory_black-and-white-quickie-photo-shoot_july-2016
»

Stroke by Stroke: Moving Forward with Mallory Weggemann

Editor’s Note: At 18 years old, Mallory Weggemann walked into the ...

Margarita Cover Photo
»

Comfort Conversations: Finding Your New Normal After a Spinal Cord injury

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

wheelchair-daddy-1
»

Glenn Moscoso: Wheelchair Daddy

Editor’s note:  Glenn Moscoso is a husband and father living with ...

national-ramp-cover-photo
»

Avoiding Slippery Slopes with Garth Walker and National Ramp

Editor’s Note: After selling his prior business, Garth Walker went ...

national-sports-center-for-the-disabled4
»

The National Sports Center for the Disabled: Finding Self-Confidence through Personal Challenge

Editor’s Note: The National Sports Center for the Disabled, founded ...

susies-travels
»

Wheeling around the World with Susie Twydell

Editor’s Note: Based in England, Susie Twydell, an avid traveler ...

What rolls through your mind as you approach your own journey?
»

Amplitude Media Group: Closing the Information Gap

Wheel:Life is thrilled to announce their newest community partner, ...

wow-2
»

Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  

Editor’s Note: Wilderness on Wheels (WOW) is a foundation and a ...

the-woody-foundation-6
»

Comfort Conversations: Events, Free Packs, and More with James “Woody” Beckham

Editor’s Note: The Woody Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ...

S
»

Jenn Sexton Shares Her Secret for Independence: An Extra Long Cure Catheter

Jenn Sexton was five weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Thomas, ...

img_2236glen-schlotterbeck
»

Glen Schlotterbeck: Reinvent Yourself!

Editors note: As a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Glen ...

The-Abilities-Expo-6
»

Educate, Energize, and Enlighten at Abilities Expo Los Angeles

The Abilities Expo is back in Los Angeles and gearing up to show you ...

14juan-sebastian
»

Juan Sebastian Betancourt: Changing the Way Businesses Serve People with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: Juan Betancourt is on a path to change the world for ...

yogya-borobudur_ai
»

AccessibleIndonesia: Making Travel Accessible in a Non-Accessible Country

Editor’s note: Kerstin Beise, a German physiotherapist, who also ...

hydred-cover
»

A Lesson on Living Life to the Fullest with Hydred Makabali

Editor’s note: Hydred Makabali, born and raised in England and now ...

Up/Down Team Champions (Top L to R) Shane Hayden, Harold Collins (Seated L to R) Gary Bowling, Kenneth Hill, and Don Law
»

Knocking Down The Pins of Life with Wheelchair Bowling Champion Kenneth Hill

Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kenneth Hill from Plainfield, ...

10-2take-your-wings-and-fly-with-denise-horn
»

Take Your Wings and Fly with Denise Horn

Editor’s Note: Fifty-six-year-old Denise Horn of Janesville, ...

ashley-hudson
»

Ashley Hutson Wilson Beat a Small Chance of Survival to Live a Full Life

Editor’s Note: Thirty-one year old Ashley Hutson Wilson from Kyle, ...

wheely-guitars-mel-header
»

Jam with Mel Bergman: Creator of Wheely Guitars

Editor’s Note: Mel Bergman of Camarillo, California, is the ...

gary-boxing-friend
»

Gary “Tiger” Balletto: Champion Prize Fighter Who Rolls with the Punches

Editor’s Note: You can capture a ferocious wild tiger and put him ...

9 Robby Heisner
»

Meet Robby Heisner: Creative Entrepreneur on Wheels

Editor’s Note: Robby Heisner of Smyrna, Georgia ...

Joseph Logar1
»

The National Rifle Association’s Adaptive Shooting Program with Dr. Joseph Logar

Dr. Joseph Logar Editor’s Note: Dr. Joseph Logar has his doctorate ...

rollettes-2
»

The Rollettes Take On an E.P.I.C. Project to Empower Others

Editor’s Note: Chances are, you’ve seen these ladies ...

medicare-access-header
»

Speak Up Now to Save Your Wheelchair: Fight Medicare Cuts

Your window is narrowing to preserve access to mobility equipment – ...

engineered for adventure GRIT
»

Go Further Together with GRIT: Stories of Community Support

Our friends at GRIT, the makers of the revolutionary Freedom Chair, ...

military-gang
»

Paralyzed Veteran’s Mom Awarded Dream Trip by ElDorado Mobility

Editor’s Note: Serving our country as a military service member is ...

4Kenneth Perry
»

Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Perry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ...

5 Tom Cannalonga
»

Ditch Your Chair to Sit-Ski the Slopes with Tom Cannalonga 

Editor’s Note: Fifty-two-year-old Tom Cannalonga lives in Edison, ...

wlbannerFBfall
»

Welcome to Wheel:Life

We are so glad you’re here! Wheel:Life is a global initiative ...

%d bloggers like this: