In the past 2 weeks, I have consistently been asked 2 questions: “What are your goals?” and “What is your platform?” I want to take some time and start by sharing the speech that I delivered at the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018 pageant…
“We all face challenges, but without resources like ABLE Youth, Easter Seals and the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee pageant, I wouldn’t be where I am today. These organizations all exposed me at a young age to others who faced similar challenges. They helped me discover and understand my own limits, helped teach me compassion for others and gave me opportunities to connect with so many different types of people and situations. More importantly though, these programs helped me discover my abilities. They helped me realize that I was not alone, I can thrive and I can find my own way to SHINE. If it wasn’t for these programs, I might not have known that there were resources out there that could help me when I was faced with the new challenge of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013.
Living with Spina Bifida hasn’t always been easy, but the resources and support that have been provided to my family and me, as well as the skills and lessons I have learned from them, have given me the tools to tackle the unique circumstance of having a disability and being given a life-changing diagnosis. They have shaped me into who I am today and have been extremely valuable to my personal and emotional growth. These resources offer support in so many different ways and helped me realize that I AM capable and that I CAN make a difference. The wheelchair (or even cancer) doesn’t have to define me. These programs also taught me that no matter where I am or what I’m doing in life, it’s important for ME to set a positive example for those around me. My circumstances have CREATED opportunities for me to use my experiences to help others who might be facing circumstances… and I NEED to share my experiences and I need to encourage others to do the same in their own lives.
As Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, I want to help people (especially children with disabilities and others who are newly injured or diagnosed) find resources to help them through their own circumstances. I also want to help young women realize that even when they are faced with a challenge, that it doesn’t have to define them negatively. I want to use this experience as an OPPORTUNITY to encourage others to get out there and to make a positive difference. Most importantly, I want to encourage others to find their own way to SHINE.”
Having the resources that were available to me growing up truly made the biggest difference in my life. They changed everything about my life in the most amazing ways possible. I want to give that to other people by using what I have learned from my own experiences to help others because that’s what others have done for me. To sum this all up… At the end of the day, my main goal is to impact as many lives positively that I possibly can. I want people to know that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to, as long as they have a passion for it and a desire to do something great with their circumstances. I want to use my story and experiences to help other people find resources so that they can live a happy and productive life and find ways to SHINE throughout their own lives.