The day started with breakfast provided by Manorhouse Assisted Living. State Coordinator Samantha Moreno welcomed the contestants and Mike McGrath provided a run down of the pageant day schedule (which can be downloaded below). The contestants delivered their platform speeches in front of the judges. Nicole Craig from the Disability Resource Center lead a workshop on employment. Before lunch, all contestants were interviewed by the panel of judges. After lunch, Kirk Tcherneshoff, President of Tcherneshoff Consulting, and attorney Ed Zwilling presented a workshop on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III which deals with public accommodations. The contestants were interviewed again by the panel of judges. Julia Hollenbeck, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2003, gave a presentation. The final workshop of the day was led by Ms. Wheelchair America, Josie Badger and all former titleholders present (Kristen Durniok, Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2010, Samantha Moreno, Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma 2010, Molly King, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2002, and Julia Hollenbeck, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2003). They discussed what it was like to be titleholders and what to expect at the national competition. Before the crowning ceremony, all ladies had their hair and makeup done and changed into their dresses.
The formal crowning ceremony started with the West High JROTC escorting the ladies to the stage area. The West High JROTC then presented the colors. Samantha Moreno welcomed the crowd and passed the show over to the MC, Todd Howell, Chief Meteorologist at WBIR Channel 10. Todd introduced the judges and each contestant. During the fishbowl, the ladies picked a judges name from a box. The judge they picked read them a question which they answered in front of the crowd. The Ms. contestants were asked two questions; one serious and one light hearted. The judges left to deliberate and tally scores. While the judges tallied the scores, the contestants delivered their platform speeches again, in front of the crowd, but they were not judged this time. Mike thanked the sponsors and volunteers while waiting for the judges to return. The judges returned and handed the results to Todd.
Thanks to the Judges
Stephanie Brewer-Cook – Stephanie is the Disability Services Coordinator for the Knoxville City Mayor’s Office. She also sits on several councils throughout the State and is a strong advocate for people with disabilities.
Molly King – Molly King, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2002, resides in Oliver Springs located within the East Tennessee area. Molly graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. She is currently employed by Barge, Waggoner Sumner & Cannon, Inc. in Knoxville and is working on various transportation projects. Molly has one young son which keeps her days full. In her spare time, she enjoys adaptive waterskiing and getting involved in community events.
Josie Badger – Josie, Ms. Wheelchair America 2012, works for the ActNow grant, funded through the Pennsylvania Development Disabilities Council, creating materials for youth to assist them in presenting on issues important to young adults with disabilities. She completed her coursework for her PhD in Healthcare Ethics at Duquesne University. She completed graduate school for Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.
Congratulations to all contestants!
Little Miss Wheelchair Tennessee: Sarah Tamar Perez
Little Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 1st runner-up: Hanna Faith Latimer
Junior Miss Wheelchair Tennessee: Hannah McElroy
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee: Jean-Marie Lawrence
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 1st runner-up: Ashley Grimes
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2nd runner-up: Deborah Pearson
*The pageant program provides a profile of each contestant.
Thank you to Eleanor Beck from WBIR Channel 10 for covering the pageant which aired on Fox 43 at 10 PM that night. Watch the news clip below.