MWW Competition 2021-22

Shine Bright & Be Bold!

Danielle M. Harada coffee and ink painting of a sunflower.

The Ms. Wheelchair Washington-America competition will be held virtually on October 3, 2021. Watch for our Facebook link to view the competition and crowning!

Agenda

Competition Interviews

1:00 – 2:50 pm Contestant Interviews

Note: Not for public viewing

Competition LIVE

3:00 – 3:10 pm – Emcee Welcome

3:10 – 3:20 pm Kaitlin’s Video

3:20 – 3:50 pm Speeches

3:50 – 4:00 pm Danielle M. Harada Art Grant Awarded

4:00 – 4:20 pm Random Questions

4:20 – 4:30 pm Ms. Wheelchair America 2022, Christine Burke Video

4:30 pm Emcee Announces Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2021-22

Facebook Viewing (with cleaned-up Closed Caption version) coming soon!

Crowning

The Crowning will be a Facebook live event (to be determined)!

Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2020-21

Kaitlin Skilton, born on September 19, 1996, with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele as well as other underlying disabilities, lives in Seattle with her family and cat Lana. She is passionate about photography, music, sports, reading, and writing. But recently she found the committee for people with disabilities and fell in love with it.
Kaitlin says, “Growing up, I shied away from activism or even talking and/or writing about my disabilities because I felt a lot of pressure in my community to do so.” This made Kaitlin feel as though people did not see there was more to her than her disabilities. However, she says her Seattle Adaptive Sports and Kiwanis Camp Casey communities have greatly and positively impacted her as they understood her thoughts and opinions. She expresses that she is extremely grateful to have found so many wonderful friends and a home away from home. Kaitlin continues that she would not have all these things if not for her disabilities.

Kaitlin sitting in her wheelchair holding flowers at the MWW 2020 competition talking into a microphone.
Kaitlin Skilton,
MWW 2020-21

Kaitlin desires to educate about her platform; inclusivity is necessary for everyone as inclusivity goes beyond accessibility and gives people a sense of belonging.

Emcee, Barry Long

We are honored to have motivational speaker, Barry Long, as the emcee for our 2021 Ms. Wheelchair Washington competition. After a near-fatal crash in 1991 left him paralyzed from the chest down, Barry discovered that choosing to live with a positive attitude, setting realistic yet achievable goals, and learning to ask for help can make anything possible. Since then, he has shared his uplifting message with people around the world, giving voice as an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. Barry also has had a career in sales and marketing and has built his livelihood on relationship building and a passion for helping others. This lifelong dedication to service, paired with his experience on the Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty team, gives Barry’s clients peace of mind in any real estate transaction, no matter how large or small. Barry is proud and excited to offer his clients a one-of-a-kind selling experience that includes the distinct capability to market accessible, age-in-place, and universal design features that bring the highest home sales values.

Barry sitting in his wheelchair and smiling at the camera.
Emcee, Barry Long

As a long-time supporter of the MWWA program, Barry is proud to help crown our new Ms. Wheelchair Washington.

Captioner, Nick Harang

Nick Harang, from Issaquah, Washington, is a Computer Science major and the president of the Signing Vikings Club at Western Washington University.

Nick smiling at the camera.
Captioner, Nick Harang

Nick is conversationally proficient in American Sign Language (ASL) and understands the need to incorporate accessibility into web design. Nick also enjoys reading, art, and hiking.

Meet the Judges

Elaine Stefanowicz

Elaine Stefanowicz is currently a Program Coordinator with the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (GCDE). She previously served as a committee member of GCDE for four years. Elaine has held positions as a WorkFirst job coach, adjunct college faculty member, career counselor, and educational planner. In 1997, as Washington State’s first representative, Elaine won the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant. 

A headshot of Elaine smiling at the camera.
Judge, Elaine Stefanowicz

During her one-year reign, she visited President and Mrs. Clinton at the White House and met actor Christopher Reeve. In 2003, she was awarded Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts Pacific Peaks Council.

Melissa DEL RIO

Melissa DEL RIO is an Employment Consultant and works with one of the schools to work transition teams at Northwest Center. She joined Northwest Center in January of 2020 and has over 6 plus years of experience working with children and adults with disabilities and in disability advocacy. She loves watching her clients grow and make strides towards their goals. Melissa is also very passionate about inclusion for minority groups and people with disabilities. She serves on the Equity Committee Team at Northwest Center. Additionally, she was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Before going into Employment Consultant work, she studied at Seattle Pacific University in theology and sociology. At SPU she co-founded the first-ever disability awareness club and assisted in coordinating their first event titled, “What is Normal?” for redefining the word “Normal.” She has a tremendous passion for this field of work due to her personal life with disabilities (ie. a learning and processing disorder as one of them), network connections, and previous work experiences such as a camp counselor for Lions Camp Horizon (A Camp for Adults with Developmental Disabilities). Additionally, she is a spoken word artist for intersectional systemic justice. She has performed virtually and in person at past events at SPU. This January she had her first spoken word professionally published. It is titled “Accessibility” and speaks on the intersections of race and disability.

Melissa smiling at the camera while wearing a purple floral shirt.
Judge, Melissa DEL RIO

She enjoys photography, sign dancing, music, writing, and exploring parks in the Pacific Northwest! Finally, she is planning to publish a poetry book somewhere down the road. 

Jayme Reyes Brunner

Jayme Reyes Brunner is the reigning America United Mrs, where she is living out her platform through #Volunteerism; she encourages people to find formal or informal ways to serve their community. She received the Gold for the President’s Volunteer Service Program by serving over 500 hours with Reading Partners and local WA organizations.

Jayme smiling at the camera while posing in her America United Mrs. crown and sash.
Judge, Jayme Reyes Brunner

Jayme graduated with her Bachelors from South Dakota State University and her M.S. in College Counseling from Azusa Pacific University. She and her husband work as first responders at the DigiPen Institute of Technology and happily live in Washington.

Krystal Monteros

Born with Spina Bifida, paralyzed from the knees down, Krystal Monteros ran for and became Ms. Wheelchair Washington in 2010, which launched her lifelong mission of being an advocate for kids and adults living with disabilities. Krystal currently works with Tacoma Public Schools to better the school experience for kids of all abilities.

Headshot of Krystal smiling at the camera.
Judge Krystal Monteros

She also works with the Tacoma Police Department in regards to how people living with disabilities are treated when interacting with the police. She continuously advocates for better mental health and other services, specifically within the minority, prison, and homeless communities.

Image of the MWW 2021 competition crown.

Meet the Contestants

Cynthia “Cindy” Wise

Cindy is an outgoing woman who is friendly and helpful. She loves working on beads and participating in the Special Olympics on the bowling team. Cindy wants to show people that she can live a full life.

Allegra Diane Keys

Allegra wearing a pink shirt and  sitting in her wheelchair in front of a sunflower mural.
Allegra Diane Keys

Allegra is a strong, independent, passionate woman who happens to be in a wheelchair. She likes dogs and horses. She loves to watch her programs and cuddle up with a blanket. She is the same as everyone else.

Leylah Denise Leonard

Leylah enjoys going to events like her high school homecoming and proms. She also enjoyed volunteering at the Morgan Family YMCA. Leylah is happy that she is a person in a wheelchair. She has a lot of family members and a lot of friends that support her disability and love her for who she is. Leylah has grown to love her disability and doesn’t let negative people bring her down and she doesn’t let people make fun of her disability.

A fun picture of Leylah in her wheelchair by her sister and her mom.
Leylah Denise Leonard

Leylah says, “Don’t judge me for having a disability before you get to know me first. Let me be me and I’ll let you be you.”

Danielle M. Harada Art Exploration Grant

Our dear Ms. Wheelchair Washington (MWW) sister, Danielle M. Harada, passed away in July of 2020 from a sudden illness. Danielle was a distractible artist with many interests. She was a lover of geeky things and shows from the UK. 

Danielle expressed herself through art–drawing, painting, writing, paper art, and photography! Danielle had such a love for art, her patience and detail were unmatched. She made pictures out of tiny origami stars. She also made impressive coffee paintings even though she was not a lover of drinking coffee. It brought her joy to give her creations away.

When she wasn’t creating art, Danielle could be found playing tabletop games, attending a convention, watching too much television, or reading one of the many books from an ever-growing list. Her volunteer work with various non-profits was very important to her as well.

Danielle positively impacted many lives, in many different communities from Comicon to MDA to MWW to Camp Promise, and will be deeply missed. MWW has created this grant in her honor to continue her love for art exploration and provide encouragement to those who share a similar dream.

The recipient of the Danielle M. Harada Art Exploration Grant will be announced at the MWW 2021-22 competition.

Pink rose drawing created by Danielle M. Harada.
Danielle M. Harada in her crown and sash at the Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2019 competition.
"Artoo" is an image of R2D2 created from origami stars.

About the Program

The mission of Ms. Wheelchair America is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 64 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike traditional beauty pageants, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive individual. It is instead a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication, and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities.

The selected representative must be able to communicate both the needs and the accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business community, and the legislature.

Ms. Wheelchair Washington (MWW) is a disability advocacy program that empowers women on wheels to educate about and advocate for the disability community.

Ms. Wheelchair Washington-America logo.

MWW is not a contest to select the most beautiful person. Titleholders are selected via an annual competition. Participants are judged on their ability to put forth a demeanor that is professional and pleasing to the public as they carry out their duties as an advocate for the disability community.

MWW Coordinator

Kyann Flint held the title of MWW2017 and was 2nd runner-up at Ms. Wheelchair America 2018 where she received the “Emerging Leader Award”. With a platform of Defying the Defined Disability, Kyann views her wheelchair as a freeing device that is a sweet and unique accessory. Kyann is the Director of Accessibility at Wandke Consulting and is the Co-founder of Camp Jericho. She is a native of Bellingham, Washington, and graduated from Western Washington University with a BA degree in Humanities and Social Sciences.

MWW Coordinator, Kyann Flint smiling at the camera.
MWW Coordinator,
Kyann Flint

Kyann is the author of the Blog Life from a Lame Perspective and is currently writing her memoir about the parallels between having a disability and being a Christian.

Email: washington@mswheelchairamerica.org

Website: http://mswheelchairwa.org/

Facebook: @mswheelchairwashingtona

Welcoming Kaitlin Skilton, Ms. Wheelchair WA 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Kaitlin Skilton Crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington of America 2020

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wa., Jan. 18, 2020

Kaitlin Skilton, selected as Ms. Wheelchair Washington of America (MWW) 2020 has the opportunity to represent the great state of Washington at Nationals in Little Rock, Arkansas, this August as she competes for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2020.

About the Program

The Mission of Ms. Wheelchair America is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike traditional beauty pageants, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive individual. It is instead a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication, and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities. The selected representative must be able to communicate both the needs and the accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business community, and the legislature. 

Introducing Kaitlin Skilton, MWW 2020

Skilton, born on September 19, 1996, with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele as well as other underlying disabilities, lives in Seattle with her family and cat Lana. She is passionate about photography, music, sports, reading, and writing. But recently she found the committee for people with disabilities and fell in love with it. 

Kaitlin, wearing her white Ms. Wheelchair Washington sash, being crowned by Mrs. Washington!

Skilton says, “Growing up, I shied away from activism or even talking and/or writing about my disabilities because I felt a lot of pressure in my community to do so.“ This made Skilton feel as though people did not see there was more to her than her disabilities. However, she says her Seattle Adaptive Sports and Kiwanis Camp Casey communities have greatly and positively impacted her as they understood her thoughts and opinions. She expresses that she is extremely grateful to have found so many wonderful friends and a home away from home. Skilton continues that she would not have all these things if not for her disabilities.

Skilton desires to educate about her platform; inclusivity is necessary for everyone as inclusivity goes beyond accessibility and gives people a sense of belonging. 

Opportunities

During Skilton’s reign as MWW, she is interested in the opportunity to share and gain knowledge as well as address issues that impact her community and work toward solutions. She is interested in participating in as many events as possible. If you have any connections to an event or speaking engagement, she would greatly appreciate being given the opportunity to speak about the Ms. Wheelchair America program and her platform. 

Ms. Wheelchair Washington-America 2020

CONGRATULATIONS! Kaitlin Skilton, a West Seattle woman, is crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington-America 2020! A January 19, 2020, article by Amy from West Seattle News.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Kaitlin has already stepped into the roll as MWW2020 and attended Kiwanis Camp Casey crew red dance. Kaitlin shares, “I had so much fun last night at the crew red dance. The crew red dance is an opportunity for attendies of Kiwanis Camp Casey, old and new to connect outside of camp. Camp Casey is a summer camp for kids with physical Disabilities. It is a place where kids with Disabilities can truly feel included and accepted and is one of the best places on Earth.”

MWW2019, Welcoming Danielle M. Harada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Danielle M. Harada Crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington of America 2019

BELLINGHAM, Wa., Mar. 23, 2019

Danielle Harada was selected Ms. Wheelchair Washington of America (MWW) 2019. At the beginning of July, it will be her privilege to represent the great state of Washington in Little Rock, Arkansas to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2020 at the National pageant.

About the Program

The Mission of Ms. Wheelchair America is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike traditional beauty pageants, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive individual. It is instead a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities. The selected representative must be able to communicate both the needs and the accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business community and the legislature.

Introducing Danielle Harada, MWW 2019

Harada has been gifted with the ability to speak, write, and create art in many forms, and feels it is her duty to use these gifts in order to educate the public. Harada’s platform is “Intersectionality in Geek Culture.” She believes that representation matters and would like to be the representation that she didn’t see when she was growing up–to be a voice for those who don’t have or don’t want to be a voice in the public eye. Harada desires to make a change in herself and the world around her by doing things out of her comfort zone and venturing to be more empowered by doing so.

Opportunities

During Harada’s reign as MWW, she is interested in participating in as many events as possible. If you have any connections to an event or speaking engagement, she would greatly appreciate being given the opportunity to speak about the Ms. Wheelchair America program and her platform. ffffffffff

At norwescon–Getting my Chibi con badges!

repost via @instarepost20 from @purpletophat . . .Be like Ms Wheelchair Washington and get all my chibi con badges! You can follow Danielle’s adventures here: @mswheelchairwa2019 .
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#Norwescon #conlife #dealersroom #artist #art #conbadge #chibi #chibiart #Marvel #CaptainAmerica #SteveRogers #WnterSoldier #BuckyBarnes #Stucky #Loki #BlackPanther #StanLee #StarWars #rey #KyloRen #Reylo #SPN #Destiel #DeanWinchester #Castiel
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Having fun @norwescon! (Possibly spending too much money, but love supporting small creators and businesses!)
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#MsWheelchairWashington #MWW2019

MWW2019 Danielle Harada Flashback friday

#FlashbackFriday: The Journey So Far…
With my newly created Instagram account dedicated to being a digital scrapbook of my year as #MWW2019 needing some content, I figured now might be a good time to take a quick look at the journey so far.
1. The day of the crowning: March 23
-with the MC and Miss Whatcom County, my fellow contestants and I, and just me, crown, sash, and all!

2. Celebratory dinner and dessert: March 23
– Thanks for the dessert, Olive Garden!

3. At #ThirdPlaceBooks, Lake Forest Park: March 24
-met up with writer friends which is always great for support and creative fun times!

4. #NanoCon in Longview, WA: March 30
– with Evelyna Castro, MWW2014. A little geeky fun times!

#FlashbackFriday: The Journey So Far...
With my newly created Instagram account dedicated to being a digital scrapbook of my year as #MWW2019 needing some content, I figured now might be a good time to take a quick look at the journey so far.
1. The day of the crowning: March 23
-with the MC and Miss Whatcom County, my fellow contestants and I, and just me, crown, sash, and all!
2. Celebratory dinner and dessert: March 23
- Thanks for the dessert, Olive Garden!
3. At #ThirdPlaceBooks, Lake Forest Park: March 24
-met up with writer friends which is always great for support and creative fun times!
4. #NanoCon in Longview, WA: March 30
- with Evelyna Castro, MWW2014. A little geeky fun times!
5. MOD Pizza planning meeting: April 4
- with Elizabeth and Meg, MWW2008
There's so much going on behind the scenes as well and so much more to come!

5. MOD Pizza planning meeting: April 4
– with Elizabeth and Meg, MWW2008
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There’s so much going on behind the scenes as well and so much more to come!