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Competing for Ms. Wheelchair America, Teaching What Disabilities Are All About

Ms. Wheelchair Illinois has a crown on her head and a mission in her heart.

Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Pearl Gannon
Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Pearl Gannon

The following is a community contribution from Ms. Wheelchair Illinois and Patch Blogger Pearl Gannon. It originally appeared on Deerfield Patch.  

Hello! My name is Pearl Gannon and I’m Ms. Wheelchair Illinois 2014.  For the next year I will be using my title to raise awareness about various disabilities.  Not only that but I will be educating society when it comes to various disability related issues. I will be targeting the disabled to advocate positive mental health, personally interacting with as many people as possible to make a difference.  Within the next year I will be visiting schools to bring hope and direction to our youth and also help teach what being disabled is all about, both from an athletic and personal perspective.  I will be attending different expos to bring awareness to the Ms. Wheelchair Illinois pageants and also attending many different sports events, both adapted and able-bodied.

In early August I will be traveling to Long Beach, California to compete for Ms. Wheelchair America 2015.  I will meet 28-30 other crown holders from various states, all competing for the same title.  I’m very excited to even have the opportunity to meet these other amazing and inspiring women whom are all making a difference in their states, advocating for their passions.

I am currently 27-years-old.  At the age of eight I started having symptoms of a neuromuscular disorder but the doctors could not put a definitive name on it.  It wasn’t until I was 26 when I received the diagnosis of Charcot-Marie-Tooth.  CMT is different in the way that it affects my nerves, which then causes my muscles to atrophy.  Not only that but CMT causes hearing loss and so I wear hearing aids.  The Muscular Dystrophy Association does cover people who have CMT because there are very few doctors in the United States who specialize in Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

I am very active in wheelchair sports such as wheelchair basketball, adaptive wake boarding, and adaptive skiing.  I’ve tried many other sports but these are the three I stick with.  Even while playing these sports I am double majoring in college.  I take American Sign Language classes at two separate colleges while also studying social work for early childhood intervention.

During my blogs feel free to comment and ask questions!  I will be covering a wide variety of topics, one blog a week.  My platform is to help teach people what having a disability is all about and rid the assumptions that society may have.  Also, I want to reach out to those that are disabled or may have someone who is disabled in their family.  Because of growing up with a disability I can relate and hopefully help with questions or issues that may arise.

What questions do you have for Pearl? What do you want to know about disabilities, adaptive sports or the crown for Ms. Wheelchair America? Please leave a question, insight or comment below!

Archie Bunker April 03, 2014 at 09:56 AM
A pageant? REALLY???????
Pearl Gannon April 04, 2014 at 04:16 AM
Yes, Archie. A pageant is held every year for Ms. Wheelchair Illinois.
Pearl Gannon April 04, 2014 at 11:26 PM
@Cheryl, email me at mswheelchairillinois2014@gmail.com and I'd be happy to answer any and all questions you have!

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