Jr. Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 2020/2021 – Kaylie Hill

Kaylie is a 15-year old homeschooled student from Clarksville, Tennessee. She is a typical teenage just rolling through life in a pretty pink wheelchair. Kaylie loves everything musical, anything artsy, and of course, the library!  She was born 2 months premature and with Cerebral Palsy.

Kaylie has an interest in home design and wants to design homes that would be accessible to all kinds of special needs. Her personal motto comes from the Audrey Hepburn quote: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m Possible’”. Kaylie views herself as kind, compassionate, funny, wise, and patient.

Kaylie was crowned Jr. Miss Wheelchair Tennessee on September 28, 2019 in Chattanooga, TN

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Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2020/2021 – Megan DeJarnett

Megan is a 30-year-old from Spring Hill, Tennessee. She is married to Jake and they stay busy raising their two sons. Megan is a public speaker and a children’s book author. She is the founder of “No Such Thing”, a company whose mission is to help others redefine purpose by removing defining labels. She enjoys planning and decorating for special occasions and doing adventurous things with friends and family. At the age of 2, Megan was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

Although the challenges facing a neuromuscular diagnosis are many, including living life in a power chair, Megan remains undefined by it. She is determined to experience life to the fullest and chooses joy over despair. Megan motivates others to approach life with an ‘I can do this!’ attitude and advocates for disabled and special needs families. Megan views herself as determined, compassionate, lively, creative, and inspiring.

Megan was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2020 at our competition held in Chattanooga, TN on September 28, 2019.

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Farewell to our 2019 titleholders – Cyndi & Liberty

As two new titleholders will be crowned next week, we wanted to congratulate our outgoing titleholders, Cyndi and Liberty, on a job well done during their reigns as titleholders. We are so proud of all of their advocacy work and can’t wait to see what else is in store for these two incredible advocates.
The Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee Board of Directors

Cyndi’s Farewell Message:

From the time I competed in the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2016 competition, I have felt that being Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee was not God’s plan for me. Little did I know that He wasn’t saying “No”. He was saying, “Not yet”. Between then and now, I have met amazing women and children and have been blessed to be involved in this organization. I have loved supporting the titleholders in their adventures and volunteering when I can. I was very excited about serving as a judge last year, but as you know, that story played out in a very different manner.

So here I sit, closing out the most rewarding, exciting, and surprising chapter of my life. I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams what would await me this year. All I could think about was how was I going to do this job justice because I had such big shoes to fill. Bliss, the Board of Directors, and past titleholders have been with me every step of the way. They have guided me, answered questions, and prepared me the best they could for what was to come.

I have felt a sense of community like never before. The Walden’s Ridge Community on Dayton Mountain have supported me through this year. Immediately, they threw a fundraiser to send me to Ms. Wheelchair America. Within a month, we had the funds and that was checked off the list. Friends and family, as well as my church family, have supplied me with all the finances I needed to travel throughout the state this year. Channels 3 and 9, US101, The Dayton Herald and the Bledsonian Banner have done their best to cover my year and help us get the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee message out there and I am so appreciative. Thank you to the Tennessee Disability Coalition who did such a nice story on “The making of Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee”. They even showed up to cheer me on when I was introduced from the floor of the House of Representatives in Nashville. Thank you, Ron Travis, my State Representative, who made that happen and for handing me the microphone to speak without warning!

I have spent many days in Nashville advocating for those with disabilities. It was such an honor to meet so many politicians who truly do care and want to help make a difference. Chatting with Governor Bill Lee and meeting President George W. Bush were just some of the unexpected surprises I received throughout my year of reign.

My platform this year was to “Share the hope” with those who suddenly find themselves living life in a wheelchair. I have visited three Veterans hospitals, and Siskin and Patricia Neal rehabilitation centers. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to visit with Disabled Veterans. Their faces lit up when I rolled into the room. We talked about what lies ahead and I encouraged them to move forward and reach for their dreams. Those experiences have been such a blessing to me. I truly pray I made a difference in their day, if not their life. I know they have changed mine.

Another thing near and dear to me is addiction recovery. Behind every addict is a family that is suffering. My husband and I know this all too well. We both pray and hope that by reaching out and helping those who are trying to make a change, someone will do that for our family member someday. Speaking at their meetings and serving them Christmas dinner alongside my granddaughters was a highlight and is something my husband and I will continue to do in the future.

I suppose my biggest surprise this year was an email from Permobil wheelchair company asking me to do a promo video for their new line of active height, active reach and standing wheelchairs. What an experience! This video was shot in Nashville and I was treated like a star. The video has been very successful for Permobil, which makes me really happy.

Making rural downtown areas more accessible was on my agenda as well. I met with the Dayton city officials regarding their downtown area. We reached an agreement that downtown curbs would be ADA compliant by the end of this year. Although it looks like it will be more like the end of 2020, the project is in the budget and has begun. That’s the important thing.

A citizen of Pikeville, Tennessee made a complaint on social media about the Bledsoe County courthouse not having an automatic door opener. I immediately met with the Mayor and he contacted a contractor while I sat in the office. We went outside and discussed the logistics of where the opener should be. I am excited to say that the courthouse now has an automatic door opener. It has been a pleasure to work with city officials who see the need and want to make changes.

I love public speaking and I am grateful to have gotten an opportunity to gain some experience at that. I have had 18 speaking engagements and 9 media interviews. Some of those were not expected, so I learned to always be ready to share my platform and talk about Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee with others. You never know when you could be meeting a potential sponsor.

When I began this year, I chose a bible verse to see me through this journey and it has. God’s word is true. I prayed this for my Ms. Wheelchair America sisters and today, I pray this for all of you.

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be discouraged: for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go.”

Thank you to the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization for a very memorable year!!

God Bless,
Cyndi Leach
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2019

Liberty’s Farewell Message:

One thousand four hundred and thirty-five days. That’s how long the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization has been a part of my life.

In that length of time, I have grown so much. I was 11 the first time I participated in the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee Competition, and now at almost 15, I’m finally saying goodbye.

Throughout the years I’ve worn four crowns, but it was never about the crowns for me. It was about the family that came with it… a family that has taught me so much about accepting who I am and believing that I can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

I hope going forward to be a mentor to all the future title holders in any way I can. I hope to be someone that the future Junior and Little Miss Wheelchairs can look to for advice. I hope to be someone that can help others believe in themselves and the power of their voice. I hope to be what everyone else in this organization has been for me.

As I continue into my high school career and set my sights on Stanford University, it’s time for me to take a break from being a titleholder. So, I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not goodbye, just goodbye for now, and Thank You, all of you for your love and support through the years. I hope I’ve made you proud.

Liberty Barnum
Junior Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 2019

State Coordinator – Lindsey Becker

-Involved with the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization since 2001-

Lindsey was first introduced to the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization at age 16 when she competed and won the title of Jr. Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 2001. She always knew she would come back and compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee someday. 17 years later, she felt led to come back compete in the Ms. division. Although she did not win the first year she competed in the Ms. division, she knew her journey wasn’t over. She took the next year to grow and was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018 the next year. Since her reign as a titleholder, Lindsey served as an Independent Delegate Coordinator and Secretary for the Ms. Wheelchair America organization. She currently serves as Historian and Secretary for the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization. She had no idea (at age 16) that she would now also the new State Coordinator for the Tennessee program now. Aside from her various roles in the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee and Ms. Wheelchair America organizations, Lindsey is also a writer, a YouTuber, a wife to Wesley (our token IT guy in the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization), a cancer survivor, and a dog mom to 2 very spoiled rescue dogs.

In addition to planning to bring the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee program back to the Nashville area, Lindsey hopes to continue to share the overall mission of the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization by encouraging women on wheels to challenge themselves, find their passion and wants to remind them that each of their stories has the power to change lives. Her primary mission is to help empower others with disabilities and encourage them to find their own ways to make a positive difference in their communities.

President – Ashley Floyd

-Involved with the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization since 2018-

Ashley was first introduced to the organization in 2017 during a lunch and learn presented by her employer’s employee resource group. Following that event, she volunteered at the annual Crowning Ceremony, getting a firsthand look at the impact the organization has. Ashley was blessed to be able to join the board in 2018 and currently serves as President.

A lifetime resident of Chattanooga, Ashley focuses on ways to influence her community through her passion for inclusion and diversity. She became particularly passionate about individuals with disabilities after having an accident that affected her mobility. During this time, she recognized the obstacles faced by those with mobility challenges and vowed to try her best to make a difference.

While not a dare devil by any means, Ashley does enjoy travel and loves to explore the outdoors with her husband and children. Ashley hopes her two amazing daughters inherit her value of service and looks forward to watching them grow into adulthood.

Vice President – Wes Becker

-Involved with the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization since 2016-

Wes was first introduced to the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization in 2016 when his wife, Lindsey Becker, first competed for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee. He immediately saw the connection of the sisterhood and the importance of the role of the titleholder as an advocate for all people with disabilities.

Wes is a web software developer for the city of Nashville. He is bringing his experience with web development, new technology, and innovative thinking to help keep the Ms. Wheelchair organization up to date with the constantly changing technology needs.

Treasurer – Bliss Welch

-Involved with the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization since 2013-

Bliss was first introduced to the organization in 2013 when she competed in the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee Competition. She was awarded Ms. Congeniality and was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013.  Bliss went on to become Ms. Wheelchair America 2014 First Runner Up.  From February 2016 until June 2020 she served as the State Coordinator for the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee program.  Currently Bliss is the Treasurer of Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee.

Always in her signature color pink, Bliss’ bubbly personality shines through her brilliant smile. Utilizing her Master’s of Accountancy, her days are spent crunching numbers at a lakeside marina. Bliss’ passion is advocating for individuals with disabilities.  She is currently the committee chairwoman for Harvesting Inclusive Play, a committee that is fundraising for a universally inclusive playground in Chattanooga.  Bliss is always seeking ways to educate and advocate for the needs of individuals with disabilities.  Her adventurous side demands she try everything at least once, from adaptive snow skiing to live television. Bliss’ most important moments in life are spent showing the world to her daughter Annabelle.

Board Member – Amanda Szidiropulosz

-Involved with the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization since 2014-

Amanda was introduced to the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization in 2014 by Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 Bliss Welch. Amanda served as Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2014 and competed in the Ms. Wheelchair America competition in Long Beach, CA. Since her year as a titleholder, Amanda has stayed involved with the Tennessee program and continues to advocate for people with disabilities.

Amanda is an elementary music teacher with 22 years of experience. She and her husband Damian live in Cleveland, TN. 

Board Member – Roddey Coe

-Involved with the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization since 2018-

Roddey Coe is an impassioned advocate, computer nerd, and, most importantly, Dad.  Roddey is a Post 9-11 US Army veteran, having served with the 101st Airborne Division.  Now, he is known as the husband of Sarah and Dad to Melissa and Ethan.  Roddey is a graduate of the TN Partners in Policymaking and Vanderbilt’s Volunteer Advocacy Program.  In 2019, he was recognized by the Tennessee General Assembly for his work in advocacy.  Driven by life, he takes pride in providing opportunities for as many people as possible.  With his own son’s autism diagnosis, Roddey immediately began to realize that opportunities were limited.  With the belief that everyone can live an independent life, for the last 12 years, he has devoted his life to creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities. During that time, Roddey has served his local community through his volunteering and former board membership with the Chattanooga Autism Center and Autism Society of East Tennessee.  Currently, he serves as a Governor-appointed member of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Most recently, Roddey is partnering with Senator Bo Watson on legislation to help make public buildings more accessible to all.