By Mallory Herrmann
Hilary Muehlberger is excited to build a statewide Ms. Wheelchair program in Missouri. Though Missouri doesn’t currently have an established Ms. Wheelchair organization, she submitted an application for the honor as an independent delegate. Her essay, letters of recommendation and phone interview were voted on by the board for national organization. She was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Missouri 2019 on Nov. 13.
Ms. Wheelchair America has a mission to promote education and advocacy for the millions of Americans who have disabilities. The contest is judged on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation. The program aims to empower women and also to promote accessibility for all. The national pageant was first organized in 1972 and now has statewide programs in more than 30 states.
Muehlberger suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident and has used a wheelchair for three years. She said that she spoke at many events, including at schools and dependency centers, about the dangers of impaired driving. But while she enjoyed getting involved in advocacy programs, she got tired of seeing her story as a cautionary tale. Muehlberger said that the accident she was in changed her life – but it didn’t end her life.
As Ms. Wheelchair Missouri 2019, she is eager to establish Missouri’s statewide program, including Little Miss Wheelchair, and to organize a pageant for next fall.
“I really want to emphasize the importance of community,” she said. “I’m so excited for this adventure in my life and it means the world to get to share it with my community and the whole of Missouri!”
She’s passionate about involvement and finding something in life that truly satisfies. A lifelong athlete, she now plays tennis on a team sponsored by The Whole Person, a support and advocacy group serving people with disabilities in the Kansas City metro area. She appreciates being treated like a competitor and seeing adaptive sports grow to include basketball, soccer, archery and more. Playing sports has been a great source of support for her and she’s excited to share it with others. She’s currently working with The Whole Person and the City of Greenwood to have a field day next year.
Muehlberger invites anyone who is interested in volunteering to support the Ms. Wheelchair Missouri program or in participating in the state’s first Ms. Wheelchair pageant to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.