Advocating for people with disabilities

November 1st and 2nd 2013 were days of great expectation, nerves, excitement and a culmination of life accomplishments coming together as women representing Maryland came to Rockville to compete in the Ms. Wheelchair Maryland Gala which was their 43rd consecutive pageant. Contestants Carolyn Diaz, Sherry Selinske, Shani Watson and Perneita Farrar-Fitzgerald arrived Friday evening to attend the Meet and Greet, designed to allow the women to get to know each other a little, have fun and receive Saturday’s agenda. Saturday began at 9 am with Welcome address from the 16 year veteran State Coordinator for Maryland Robert Watson briefing the ladies on the schedule, imparting words of encouragement to enjoy the day, relax and do their best. Robert said “Everyone here is a winner but today one lady will be elected to represent Maryland for the year at various functions and events and she will also attend the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant in Longbeach California July, 2014 along with over 30 other women representing their various states”. The ladies presented themselves to the Judges, Jeri Wasco State Coordinator for Ms.Wheelchair DC, Derek Marryshow and Kelvin Hawkins on four separate occasions throughout the day. At 7 pm that evening we first crowned Jr. Miss Wheelchair MD, Dominique Ingram. Then former Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2013 Patrina Franklin handed off her crown to the newly announced Ms. Wheelchair MD Shani Watson. Carolyn Diaz was announced 1st runner up and in the event Shani is unable to fulfill her duties representing the organization throughout the year, Carolyn would step up and take the title holders responsibilities. Amid cheers from family and friends in the audience photo opportunities ensue and another pageant come’s to a close with Robert and his assistant coordinator Shannon Minnick looking forward to working with Shani this year. The year affords great opportunity to volunteer at functions such as feed the homeless, the Disability Expo held in July down town Silver Spring and using her platform to educate as she travels and speaks on “Inclusion through Accessibility”. Shani described herself as diligent, independent, a motivator, outspoken and sincere.

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