A Caldwell woman will represent Texas at next month’s Ms. Wheelchair USA competition.
Whitney Lavender was named Ms. Wheelchair Texas USA in January after learning about the competition through Facebook. She and her husband, Scott, own Lavco Air Conditioning & Heating.
The 39-year-old mother of four was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome more than three years ago after a fall. There is no cure for the rare disease, she said, and she is in constant pain.
Scott Lavender said his wife’s determination to overcome the hardships of her condition has “been amazing to watch.”
While the state competition was based on an essay, letters of recommendation and a photo, the national contest will be in-person in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, from July 10-18. The contestants will be judged on their interviews as well as dance and gown competitions.
Contestants also are expected to have a fundraising booth and be active in community activities.
The Ms. Wheelchair USA organization started in 1997 as a way to promote awareness for people with disabilities. It also works to help those with disabilities get supplies, medical equipment and other items.
The winner of the Ms. Wheelchair USA title will work to promote the program across the country through advocacy groups, events and public appearances.
Lavender said she considers her fall a blessing because it led to the discovery of her other medical issues.
She said the Ms. Wheelchair competition has given her a sense of belonging and introduced her to many women in the same situation, resulting in new friendships.
If she wins the competition, she said, she plans on being the voice for people who are praying for a cure for their ailments.
She noted that she’s proud to be an advocate for women in wheelchairs and to use her voice to raise awareness. She considers playing a role in getting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to declare November as Complex Regional Syndrome Awareness Month as one of her greatest accomplishments.
For more information about the competition, visit mswheelchairusa.org.