Candidates sought for Ms. Wheelchair Illinois

Candidates sought for Ms. Wheelchair Illinois


The Ms. Wheelchair Illinois pageant is seeking candidates to enter competition for the event scheduled for February.

Ms. Wheelchair Illinois is part of the Ms. Wheelchair America Program. The national program has been in existence for 30 years and celebrates the achievement of women since the onset of disabilities. This is not a beauty pageant! It is instead a competition to select the most accomplished and articulate spokesperson for the millions of disabled. The selected titleholder must be able to communicate both the needs and accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business world and the legislature when the opportunity arises.

You may be eligible to enter the competition if:

l you are a U.S. citizen and an Illinois resident between the ages of 21-60;

l you have dreams, goals and accomplishments you can share with others.

Candidates must fill out and send in the application, 5×7 photograph of themselves and a $200 registration fee (this can and should be gathered from sponsors). The application, photo and registration fee needs to be in by Feb. 8, 2003. The pageant will be Saturday, March 22.

The registration fee will help cover expenses for each candidate and her personal assistant (required in all pageant activities). This is regulated by the rules of the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant and may be a spouse, a family member or a friend. He/she must be able-bodied. Contestants will be responsible for transportation to and from pageant and for incidental expenses, such as clothes, telephone, cocktails, etc.

The current titleholder is Theresa Temborius, a registered nurse, of Chillicothe, who is very active. She was glad to share some information with The Rock River Times.

“I was injured two years ago in a sledding accident,” she explained. “Just a freak thing—a 30-foot hill. It happened Dec. 16, 2000. A bunch of neighbor kids were all going down the same hill. I hit something. They couldn’t find out what I hit—but when I landed, I landed on my spine and severed my spinal cord. I am paralyzed from the waist down.”

How has it affected her job? “I’ve been a nurse for 22 years,” she recalled, “so that was helpful to me. I knew more what was going on than the average person. I had surgery. They put rods in my spine and did rehab, and I got a van. I drive the van with hand controls, and I’ve been back to work for four months. I work with the developmentally disabled. It’s a perfect job for me, really.”

How did she hear about the pageant? “I read about it in the paper. The caption said ‘Roll [sic] model wanted.’” She chuckled at the pun, but it got her interested. “They were just looking for someone that could be an advocate for the disabled, speak to the public, make appearances, and who had been active in the community.”

She is happy to be a spokesperson for the disabled. “That’s my life philosophy—to just do what I did before,” she noted. Sometimes I do it differently, but I still swim, ride my bike and play basketball and do archery.”

Becoming Ms. Wheelchair Illinois is the first step toward becoming Ms. Wheelchair America. For more information, call Kristina A. Traynor, at (708) 747-1244.

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