Ohio Gov. John Kasich will open the Ms. Wheelchair USA competition July 19 at 7:30 p.m. with recorded video remarks at the Cuyahoga Falls High School auditorium, 2300 Fourth St. The program celebrates the achievements of women with disabilities, according to Lowery D. Lockard, the event's executive producer.
The reigning Ms. Wheelchair USA is Ashlee Lundvall of Wyoming, whose platform promotes the enjoyment of outdoor activities, including hunting, kayaking and riding ATVs.
The national finalists, who arrive July 15, will include Miss Wheelchair Ohio, Dianna Warren; Michele Miller of Alabama; Tiffany Hendrickson of California; Tami Detrich of Atlanta; Laura-Lee Minutello of Florida; Starla Barnes of Montana; Jen Onsum of Minnesota; Yvette Pegues of Georgia; Jarae Anderson of South Carolina; Jordan Lowe of West Virginia; and Chandra Hendricks of Wyoming.
The governor has issued a proclamation congratulating Warren. Kasich also is expected to salute the winner of the Ms. Wheelchair USA competition with a proclamation as well.
The 2014 National Finals will be conducted from July 15 through 19, with the crowning ceremony on July 19. The theme of this year's show will be "The Roaring 20s: Mystique, Mayhem and Moxie." Members of the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department, Ziegfeld girls and area children will join the national finalists. Motivational speaker David Mezapelle, author of "Contagious Optimism," will present the Mona Johansson Spirit of Life Award to one of the contestants during the televised stage show. Johansson was a Ms. Ohio several years ago; she died unexpectedly.
A production crew for "The Doctors," a syndicated daily talk show, also will be on hand to film a segment about Ms. Wheelchair USA for an upcoming show. The segment will include Mezzapelle speaking with the contestants about the role optimism plays in their health. Lockard is recruiting volunteers to fill at least 1,000 seats in the bottom section of the 2,300-seat Falls High auditorium. Such seat-fillers will receive free entry to the event.
"Extras must be over the age of 5 and they must be approved in advance. To apply, email Info@MsWheelchairUSA.org; you must provide each potential extra's name, age and phone number and include a paragraph detailing any prior acting and/or television experience. Lockard says extras will be chosen on a first-come, first served basis, "with needs filled first by families, then by women, and all others based on age and need." Those who are chosen will be notified and given further instructions via email or phone no later than July 15.
Tickets and more information are available at www.MsWheelchairUSA.org. Tickets are $20 each for limited orchestra seating and $15 for general admission reserved seating. Group rates are available at a discounted price.
To volunteer to assist with the event, contact Ms. Wheelchair USA national headquarters at 330-612-5242.