The Contestants

Ms. Wheelchair Alabama 2013

Paula Montgomery Rodney

Paula Montgomery Rodney

Paula lives in Huntsville, Alabama and works at Yendora Advocacy Group. She obtained a Bachelors of Science from Spelman College. Paula enjoys traveling, Broadway productions, and singing. She has multiple sclerosis onset from February 5, 2005. Paula describes herself as compassionate, active, and driven.



Ms. Wheelchair California 2013

Margarita Elizondo


Margarita lives in San Diego, California and is the Director of Public Relations at Access Medical. She studied Administration in Disability Services at Grossmont Community College. Margarita enjoys dancing, painting, and writing. She has has a spinal cord injury at c/6-7 level. Margarita describes herself as spiritual, loving, and passionate.



Ms. Wheelchair Colorado 2013

Mary Colecchi


Mary resides in Denver, Colorado and is a disability advocate that aspires to own an Independent Life Skills Trainer Company. She is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in health care management from Regis University. Mary enjoys photography, gardening, live music, and being outdoors in her beautiful state. She is a hemiplegic with an acquired brain injury due to a stroke in 2008. Mary describes herself as aspiring, motivational and reliable.


Ms. Wheelchair Washington D.C. 2013

Lakendra Nelson-Peterson


Lakendra lives in Washington D.C. and works for Bread for the City. She obtained a diploma in medical assistance from Everest College. Lakendra enjoys writing, spending time with family and traveling. She has had type III Osteogensis Imperfecta since birth. Lakendra describes herself as confident, energetic, and kind-hearted



Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2013

Lisa Jackson

mwfl2013-3Lisa lives in Pensacola, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education from the University of West Florida. Lisa enjoys singing, directing the youth and fellowship choirs at church, and spending time with family and friends. She is a double amputee and legally blind since 1995. Lisa describes herself as dedicated, outgoing and funny.



Ms. Wheelchair Illinois 2013

Danielle Austin


Danielle lives in Carol Stream, Illinois and works at the Community Consolidated School District 93 and Glenbard School District 87. She received a Rehabilitation Services BS and University Studies BS from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Danielle enjoys reading, watching sports, and working out. She has cerebral palsy onset from birth. Danielle describes herself as ambitious, honest, and trustworthy.


Ms. Wheelchair Indiana 2013

Brandy McCord

Brandy,1,PageantBrandy lives in Greenwood, Indiana and works at Corizon, a medical and mental health provider for the Indiana Department of Correction. She also volunteers at Easter Seals Crossroads with Special Needs Children. She received a Bachelor’s in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a Minor in Criminal Justice from Indiana University Bloomington. Brandy enjoys spending time with her family and friends, participating in 5K races, singing karaoke and dancing. She was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus in 2002 and End Stage Renal Failure in 2003. Brandy describes herself as outgoing, joyful, and unstoppable.


Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2013

Tasha DeGroote

RDSC_0789Tasha lives in New Hartford, Iowa and works for the Waterloo Community School District as a Para-Educator. She obtained an Associate in Science degree in Human Services and Disability Studies from Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa. Tasha enjoys participating in adapted basketball, track & field and tennis, spending time with family and friends, taking care of her miniature pinscher-speedy, and mentoring young athletes with disabilities. She was born with Spina Bifida. Tasha describes herself as outgoing, determined, and dedicated.


Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2013

Angel Shaver

Angel portrait- 5X7Angel lives in WaKeeney, Kansas and is primarily a domestic engineer or co-manager of her household. She works as a secretary at Wakeeney Church of God, is a piano teacher, and a bookkeeper. She obtained Bachelor’s Degrees in Behavioral Science and Bible/Theology from Mid-America Bible College and a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy from Friends University. Angel enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and keeping up with her blogs. She has a traumatic brain injury and nerve damage which she sustained during a motor vehicle accident in 2004. Angel describes herself as family focused, a scholar, and determined.


Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky 2013

Heather Markham

Markham_11102012Heather lives in Louisville, Kentucky and works as a Rehabilitation Technologist for the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. She earned a Bachelor’s from Texas A&M University, a Master’s from Midwestern State University, and a second Master’s from the University of Pittsburgh.  Heather enjoys photographing whatever catches her eye, traveling at every opportunity, and surfing with Life Rolls On. She was born with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, but asymptomatic until 1990, and it was eventually diagnosed in 2002. Heather describes herself as creative, compassionate, and adventurous.


Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana 2013

Anita Gray

IMG_2473 - Version 2Anita lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is a Senior Technical Support Advisor at Kelly Services. She studied Philosophy from Louisiana State University. Anita enjoys reading, genealogy, cooking, attending events to support others in the community who live with a disability, and spending time with her niece. She has been a paraplegic (T4/5 SCI) since December 17, 1999. Anita describes herself as friendly, resourceful, and pragmatic.


Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2013

Patrina Franklin


Patrina lives in Churchton, Maryland and works at Omni House. She obtained an Associate degree from Anne Arundel Community College. Patrina enjoys shopping, scrapbooking, and spending time with family and friends. She has a spinal cord injury. Patrina describes herself as energetic, courageous, and dependable.



Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 2013

Nicole Tarzia


Nicole lives in Pembroke, Massachusetts and works at Grandma Em’s Diaper Cakes and More, and ACN International. She earned a Master of Social Work in Clinical Therapy from Simmons College. Nicole enjoys traveling, mono-skiing, teaching religious education, and spending time with her family. She is quadriplegic onset from cerebral palsy since birth. Nicole describes herslef as approachable, fun-loving, and determined.


Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2013

Linh Huynh

linh-2Linh lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and works as the Social Media Director for Nail Works while volunteering with the Child Life Department at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Metro Health Hospital. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Grand Valley State University. Linh enjoys baking, spending time with her family/sorority sisters, painting and volunteering with children. She was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Linh describes herself as funny, wholehearted, and compassionate.


Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota 2013

Crissa Knott

IMG_9293Crissa lives in Winona, Minnesota and has volunteered at the Kenyon Sunset Home and Paws and Claws. She received a B.A. in psychology from Winona State University. Crissa enjoys fishing, reading, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends. She was born with Cerebral Palsy. Crissa describes herself as intelligent, friendly, and empathetic.



Ms. Wheelchair Mississippi 2013

Kebra Moore

mwcmsKebra lives in Meridian, Mississippi, and is a Gospel/Inspirational singer. She received her B.A. in Music Education with a concentration in voice from Claflin University in Orangburg, S.C. Kebra enjoys singing, reading, and involved in her “Beautiful Campaign”, while travleling with the “Ability Expo”. She has a T-12 incomplete fracture. Kebra describes herself as passionate, caring , and ambitious.



Ms. Wheelchair Nevada 2013

Ashley Varndell lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and works at Home Depot as a Specialty Sales Lead Generator, and volunteers with the Clark County School District. She obtained a Culinary Certificate from Chantilly Academy Culinary School in 1999, a Department of Criminal Justice Certification in 2002, a Virginia Real Estate License in 2004 and became a Virginia Certified Tax Professional in 2009. Ashley enjoys cooking, home remodeling projects, wheelchair basketball and being an Aunt to her identical twin nieces, Sydney and Natalie. She has had an undiagnosed progressive disability since the age of 10. Ashley describes herself as confident, positive, and driven.

Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 2013

Maggie Redden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMargaret “Maggie” Redden lives in Jersey City, New Jersey and works as the community outreach coordinator for Paralympic Sports Club NJ. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications from Pennsylvania State University in 2007. Maggie enjoys singing as a member of the Cantigas Women’s Choir, going out on the track in her racing chair to stay physically fit and healthy, and taking yoga and zumba classes. She contracted Polio as a baby in India. Maggie describes herself as eclectic, philanthropic, and athletic.


Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2013

Morgan Norris

New North Carolina Morgan Norris

Morgan lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she earned her Dental Hygiene license at Asheville/Buncombe Tech and looks forward to resuming her career in the pediatric area of her field. Morgan was injured at level T12 in February of 2012 in a car accident. She describes herself as smart, compassionate, and motivated.





Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2013

Jessica Kelbley

Pageant_Program_PictureJessica lives in Fostoria, Ohio and works at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. She is studying Organizational Leadership from Wright State University. Jessica enjoys shopping, bowling, event planning, and Relay for Life. She has Spinal Muscular Atrophy which limits her ability to gain muscle. Jessica describes herself as outgoing, hard working, and smart.


Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma 2013

Kelsey Ballhorn

2Kelsey lives in El Reno, Oklahoma and works at the Bank of Union. She received her diploma from El Reno High School. Kelsey enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the lake, cooking, and doing things within the community. She has been paraplegic since November of 2006. Kelsey describes herself as honest, compassionate, and family oriented.



Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2013

Katie Smith

Katie_020Katie lives in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania and is a substitute elementary and special education teacher at Mount Pleasant Area School District, Ligonier Valley School District and Valley School of Ligonier. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Seton Hill University. Katie enjoys engaging in adaptive sports including quadriplegic rugby, skiing, horseback riding, and handcycling, any outlet for artistic creativity, and volunteering in the community. She became a quadriplegic in 2007 after a spinal cord injury. Katie describes herself as genuine, compassionate and determined.


Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013

Bliss Welch

Bliss Welch-1Bliss lives in Harrison, Tennessee and works at Island Cove Marina & Resort. She obtained a Bachelor’s in Organizational Management from Covenant College and is currently working towards her Master’s of Accountancy at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Bliss enjoys spending time with her family and friends, documenting life through pictures, educating children about individuals with disabilities, and meeting new people from all walks of life. Bliss was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 2B at the age of 19. Bliss describes herself as compassionate, decisive, and resourceful.


Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2013

Haley Cornelius

xTexasHaley lives in Tomball, Texas and volunteers at Houston Elementary Schools and Children’s Hospital and Fort Hood Hospital. She obtained a Bachelors of Liberal Arts from Nebraska Wesleyan University and Texas State University. Haley enjoys golf, swimming, shopping, and Texans and Husker football. She is a traumatic paraplegic that was injured on July 4, 2001 in a boating accident. Haley describes herself as stubborn, intelligent, and a firecracker.



Ms. Wheelchair Utah 2013

Arianne Nakasone

AriNakasoneArianne lives in Roy, Utah and attends the Canyon View Life Program and volunteers as an Assistant LDS Activity Days Leader. Ari enjoys traveling, collecting cookbooks, visiting Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and using her communication device to read to young children. She has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. Ari describes herself as happy, adventurous, and kind.



Ms. Wheelchair Virginia 2013

Brittany Yates

Brittany2013Pic2Brittany lives in Bassett, Virginia and works at Friday Night Friends. She has an EMT certification and Child CPR training from the PERT Program at the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center. Brittany enjoys advocating, mentoring, outdoor activities, and traveling to and visiting concerts and amusement parks, as well as spending time with loved ones. She has spin bifid a, a neural tube defect in which her spine did not close prior to birth. Brittany describes herself as independent, reliable, and confident.


Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2013

Jennifer Lynn Adams

0Jennifer lives in Tacoma, Washington and is self employed as a Motivational Speaker. She studied psychology at Pacific Lutheran University. Jennifer enjoys singing, oil painting, skateboarding, and public speaking, She was born with partial limbs. Jennifer describes herself as joyful, musical, and giving.




Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2013

Amber Lee Gilberg

Amber-Gilberg-1Amber lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and runs her independently owned business, Beautifully Different, where she is a freelance graphic/website designer and portrait artist. She is also an AVON sales representative. She obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic and multimedia design combined with business marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Amber enjoys bowling in her local bowling league, training her service dog, spending time with friends and family, and is an avid Apple fan. She was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. Amber describes herself a creative, intelligent, and compassionate.