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Mrs. Wheelchair America is coming to Grand Rapids

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A nationwide competition is taking place this week as contestants champion people with disabilities.

Ms. Wheelchair America kicks off her week-long competition today at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 187 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids, as 22 candidates arrive to represent their state in a series of events designed to find the most accomplished and articulate spokesperson among them.

The competition will run from August 15-21 and contestants will participate in workshops on advocacy, self-care and leadership. They will attend group dinners every night, a citywide scavenger hunt on Tuesdays, and a dance on Thursday nights.

The competition will conclude with two events open to the public, an evening speech at 7:30 p.m. Friday and the coronation gala at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Both events will be broadcast live on Mary Free Bed’s Facebook page. A $10 donation to Mrs. Wheelchair America is requested for in-person attendees.

This year’s nominees include Ms. Wheelchair Michigan, Sarah Nassar of Dearborn, law student and founder of the Disability Law Association; and Ms Kansas, Marci Clare, a mother of four who worked in healthcare before her accident and now has her sights set on returning as a registered nurse.

Ms. Minnesota, Linda Hood, is a clinical scientist who has volunteered at eight Olympic Games; and Ms. Texas, Kristy Durso, owns a travel agency specializing in accessible travel.

This year’s event will be Ms. Wheelchair America’s first in-person competition since 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 and held virtually in 2021.

The Mary Free Bed Guild is this year’s title sponsor and has taken over the virtual aspects of the event to help keep contestants safe and broadcast to thousands of people online.