Reposted from The News Tribune
By ALEXIS KRELL — Staff writer
She has a bigger tiara and a wider audience.
Tacoma’s Jennifer Adams was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2014 Saturday night in Houston, where she competed as Ms. Wheelchair Washington for the national title.
Now 33-year-old Adams begins a year of traveling the country to share her platform, which is to bring arts education to students of all abilities and to combat bullying. Born with partial limbs and having used a wheelchair all her life, those are issues Adams said she has faced firsthand.
Professionally she is a motivational speaker, and she used that skill to win over the audience while vying for the national crown.
As one of the last five finalists competing for the title, Adams was asked to share an embarrassing story about herself.
She told them what she says is a funny account of her first day of kindergarten, when she accidentally ran over another student with her brand new chair.
“My dad told me not to turn the wheelchair up to the highest speed, and I did anyway,” she said.
The tale got the audience laughing, she said.
She also shared with the crowd how she thinks the health care system could better serve people with disabilities, and about her plans to make schools more inclusive for all students.
Adams was up against stiff competition in Houston, Washington pageant coordinator Meg Paulsen said.
“Women who are doctors and lawyers and have long-standing nonprofits and are making huge differences in their communities,” Paulsen said. “(Jennifer is) a great representative of women who happen to be wheelchair users, and has a passion for breaking down the barriers that she has faced in the past.”
A Washington woman last earned the title in 1996.
Adams was chosen to wear the crown out of about 30 contestants, according to the pageant website.
“I immediately started crying tears of joy,” she said. “I just felt this energy, passion and vision for this next year.”
She plans to make appearances in all 50 states, serving as a spokeswoman for persons with disabilities.
“I’m going to be taking my talents out into the world, and show the world that having a disability is cool,” Adams said. “My goal is to make Ms. Wheelchair America a household name.”
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268