Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2017, Andrea Klein

Andrea was born and raised in Cleveland, TN. 

She was initially diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy in 1980 but received genetic confirmation of Collagen 6 Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (COL6 CMD) from the National Institutes of Health in 2015. The disease causes a deficiency of Collagen Type 6 in all connective tissues including the muscles. It affects respiratory function, has distinct features with skin, involves joint contracture, and patients can have hypermobility of distal joints.  

She is a 1993 Honors Graduate of Cleveland High School and received a Bachelor of Science in English and Journalism with a Minor in Public Relations in 1996 from Tennessee Technological University (TTU). 

She has worked full time for Life Care Centers of America, Inc. since 2000 and currently serves as a Business Analyst in Information Technology. 

In 2014, she founded an organization called "Breathe with MD" in memory of her sister Cheryl Lewis who passed away from respiratory failure. (See https://www.facebook.com/BreatheWithMD/ and http://www.breathewithmd.org/index.html). Breathe with MD shares reliable sources of information on breathing muscle weakness in neuromuscular disease and equips patients to become advocates for their own appropriate respiratory care. Breathe with MD administers a Facebook support group "Breathe with MD Support Group" with hundreds of member from across the globe.

As Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2017, Andrea will focus her advocacy on raising awareness about breathing muscle weakness in muscle-wasting disease and spread the message that those with neuromuscular disease can have accomplished, fulfilling lives, even if they require support for breathing.

Awards:

  • Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee Advocacy Award October 15, 2016
  • Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee People's Choice Award October 15, 2016
  • The Speak Foundation Personal Achievement Award July 25, 2015