It was an honor to be asked to be a judge for Ms Wheelchair U.S.A. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was an honor to be asked. As it turns out the competition had two interview sections, an evening gown section, and kind of an oral freestyle category. Contestants, from around the country, were also evaluated on community service, goals, platform issue, professionalism and experience.
For the evening gown competition the contestants wore an array of evening gowns and had their hair and make- up done by experts. Some gowns were more bedazzled than others, but pretty much they were all bedazzled. Some contestants had a basic wheelchair that was completely hand motivated, some had an electric wheelchair, and one had a wheelchair that even moved up and down to the height of the person she was talking to at that moment.
After glammed up each contestant had 3-5 minutes to deliver their personal message in their personal style. Some used paper notes, some used their smartphone (I am not a fan of phones used as notes), and some spoke seemingly without a specific plan or destination.
The eventual winner so nailed the oral presentation. Her dress was not the fanciest and her make-up was not the most outstanding. Her presentation, which she nailed two nights in a row, was an original rap of sorts which she referred to as slam poetry. The topic was how unfair it was for a child to have a disabled parent. Even in the world of Ms Wheelchair USA, the communication aspect was so important. The winner so owned her presentation, and yes she had practiced until near perfection. Wheels or not, and these ladies did not consider themselves disabled, communication still won the night.
This was her first national competition so she was not as pageant savvy as some, she was not as glamourous as some although with little make up she was a dead ringer for Sandra Bullock and in real life she was a Federal Agent! What she was, was authentic, well-practiced, provided a well thought out and well edited presentation and she did it well two nights in a row.
Wheelchair or no wheelchair, communication skills won the pageant.