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

Music and Comedy Benefit Event

This benefit is to help Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018 – Lindsey Becker raise money for her entry fee and travel expenses required to compete and represent the state of Tennessee in the Ms. Wheelchair America 2019 competition in Grand Rapids, MI as well as her travel expenses throughout her reign as Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018. There will be a raffle/silent auction. All ticket sales and money raised through raffle/auction items at the event will benefit her and the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization.

The lineup for this Comedy & Music benefit is FANTASTIC! Click the link below to order your tickets now!

18+ to attend. 21+ to drink. There will be a 2 item minimum. If you cannot attend, but would still like to contribute in some way, you can donate to the gofundme account at: or contact me for more details.

Host: Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018 – Lindsey Becker

Jamie Becker (Jamie Becker Music)
Danny Lee Dunn (Danny Lee Dunn)
Stevenson Everett (Stevenson Everett)

Brad Sativa (Comedian Brad Sativa)
Hannah Hogan (Hannah Hogan)
…and more!!!

Raffle/auction items from:
Nashville Predators
Nashville Zoo
Mary Kay
Twin Peaks
…and more to come!

Zumba Benefit Event

Ms Wheelchair Tennessee is excited to announce the Ms Wheelchair Tennessee 2017, Andrea Klein’s Zumba Fundraising Event! The event will feature Zumba dancing lead by licensed instructors. T-shirts, wristbands, and bottled water will also be available. There will also be a Silent Auction with items from:

  • Tastefully Simple 
  • LuLaRoe
  • Pampered Chef
  • ThirtyOne
  • Premier Jewelry
  • Clay Divas Design
  • Arbonne
  • Pure Haven Essentials
  • Magnolia and Vine
  • Kindermusik

… and more! Admission will be at the door. Prices are listed below

  • Adults: $10.00
  • Children under twelve: $7.00

For more information, please contact Regina at 423-310-9557 or Andrea at 423-829-6729. 

All proceeds benefit Ms. Wheelchair 2017 who will represent the state at Ms. Wheelchair America. Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee is a non-profit organization with no paid staff. 

Farewell to a Great Advocate

Michael McGrath of Knoxville, TN passed away on October 6th 2015. His death was due to complications from his congestive heart failure. He was 34 years old.

Michael McGrath was a MWA “lifer”. He began supporting the Ms. Wheelchair America program as a resident of Maryland, where he befriended state coordinator, Robert Watson. Michael volunteered as a judge on several occasions and was fortunate to meet many of the women who would go on to compete for and win the title of Ms. Wheelchair America.

In 2009, he and Samantha Moreno happened to “meet” online and form a quick friendship. The two were linked not only as wheelchair users and individuals living with muscular dystrophy, but they also shared a desire to advocate for and with people with disabilities. Michael encouraged Samantha to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma, which is where she lived at the time. He also traveled to Michigan to cheer Samantha on as she competed for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America.

Michael and Samantha started a life together in Tennessee in 2011. Soon after, they were also asked to revive the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization. It was an exciting time and, while it was challenging, they brought life back to the program. Michael served as the organization Treasurer, webmaster, technical writer, and anywhere else he was needed. He was the true definition of the word Volunteer and never said “no” to anyone who needed his help.

Michael is survived by his loving family. Samantha wrote once after a Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee Crowning Ceremony: “Thank you to my husband Mike McGrath. When people are questioning my every judgement and when I feel like I can’t see the finish line, you are my peaceful getaway and constant encouraging presence.” He will be missed terribly.

Good Luck, Jenny!

On July 27th, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, Jenny Morton will take her very first airplane flight in her 32 years of life. She will be taking off for Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the national Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant. The competition begins as soon as all of the titleholders from each of the participating states arrive, and will culminate in the highly anticipated announcement of the new Ms. Wheelchair America.

The entire Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization would like to wish our Jenny Morton safe travels and all the best as she joins her fellow wheel sisters for what many competitors call a “life changing” event. The week is packed full of workshops, interviews with judges, and of course, fun. Jenny is “looking forward to making lifelong friends” and we know she will have no trouble doing this.

As Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, Jenny Morton traveled across the state of Tennessee attending events and promoting the organization so that we can continue for years to come. Individuals who are interested in becoming the next Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee or would like to be involved in other ways may visit our website at or speak with the State Coordinator, Samantha at 865-441-6888.

Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee is charged with a continuing effort to educate the public regarding the dignity, productiveness and basic values of people with disabilities. She must be able to communicate both the needs and abilities of her constituency to the general public, the business community and government. Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee will have the opportunity to travel and make public appearances, and she will ultimately represent Tennessee at the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.

Hootenanny at Volunteer Landing

The Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization is hosting a concert at Volunteer Landing Park – Central in Knoxville on June 6, 2015 from 7pm to 9pm. Included in this event are opening act, the Patio Pirates, a local country band from Knoxville. Our headliner will be the Nashville folk/country duo Me and Molly.

Seating is limited, but feel free to bring chairs and blankets. There will be soda for sale, as well as freebies, and a silent auction table with some great items!

Entry is $10. Donations, of course are always appreciated.

Ms. Wheelchair of Tennessee is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization. Funds raised will help Jenny Morton get to the national Ms. Wheelchair America competition in Des Moines, Iowa July 27-August 4th.

We hope to see all of our friends and family there!!!

Columbia woman wins Ms. Wheelchair title

Jenny Morton of Columbia was crowned this year’s Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee during a ceremony at the Tennessee School for the Blind on March 7.

Morton is expected to spend the next year traveling across the state to educate the public about individuals with a disability, spokesperson Samantha Moreno said.

“At the end of July she also will represented the state of Tennessee at the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant in Des Moines, Iowa,” Moreno said.

Morton said she is looking forward to educating the public about people with disabilities.

“The title is dream come true I am very excited about the upcoming year,” she said. “It’s my desire to help parents with children with disabilities that self esteem is very important.”

Morton, 32, was born with spina bidfida, a congenital disorder caused by incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube.

She graduated from Central High School in 2001. She and her husband, James, have a son who attends Highland Park Elementary School.

Morton said she is an active volunteer at her son’s school and at Maury Regional Medical Center. She also graduated from the Partners in Policy making program — a training program for adults with disabilities and family members of person with disabilities.

The Ms. Wheelchair competition began in 1996. .to select the most accomplished and articulate spokesperson for people with disabilities across the state. Competitors take part in a yearly event which includes team-building exercises, educational workshops and several interviews by a panel of judges.

Read More Here

Buffalo Wild Wings Fundraiser

Eat Wings. Raise Funds. It Pays.

Join us for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings on February 2nd from 4-10pm.
Location:11431 Parkside Drive at Turkey Creek in Knoxville, TN
Details: Show up, hand your server the yellow fundraising ticket found below, and stuff your face! 10% of your bill will be donated to the Ms. Wheelchair of Tennessee organization.