The Hawkeye State is looking for a new spokesperson for Iowans with disabilities. The deadline is February 11th for contestants to enter the Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2005 competition. Program coordinator Judy Hoit is looking for women between 21 and 60 who’ve lived in Iowa at least a year, who are U.S. citizens and who use a wheelchair daily for mobility. The titleholder goes all over Iowa speaking to civic groups, schools, churches and women’s groups about what it’s like to have a disability and to promote awareness. Hoit lives in Iowa City and is a polio survivor. She was Iowa’s first Ms. Wheelchair in 1996 and has remained the recruiter and organizer ever since. She sees a lot of value in the program and encounters people all the time who are unaware of what people with disabilities go through. The biggest challenge, Hoit says, is finding contestants. Part of that may be the misconception that the event is some sort of beauty pageant, which is not the case.Hoit says contestants are judged on their achievements and accomplishments since the onset of the disability, and on their ability to communicate with people. It’s not a bathing suit pageant. The winner of the March 5th state pageant in Iowa City will represent Iowa in the national Ms. Wheelchair competition in New York this summer. Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2004 is Ami Dark of Toledo, who will hand over the crown this spring. Potential contestants can contact Judy Hoit at (319) 351-8375 or via email at “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Again, the deadline to enter is February 11th.
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