Iowa has a new spokeswoman for people in wheelchairs. 52-year-old Shonnae Lundy was crowned over the weekend as Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2005. (Shown in above photo) Lundy lives in Des Moines and was left paraplegic by a car accident in 1988. She says her goal for the year ahead is simply making Iowans more aware that people in wheelchairs are just people. “They won’t see people with disabilities as shut-ins. I want people to see people with disabilities where they’re out there, they’re working, they’re making a difference. And even though we’re in wheelchairs, we’re with canes and animals to help us along, we’re just like anybody else.” Lundy works at the Central Iowa Center for Independent Living and teaches a class in living healthier with a disability. She’s working with a state legislator to pass a new law that would raise fines for people who wrongly park in handicapped spaces. She wants the fine raised from 100 to 500 dollars to make people stop and think before using one of those parking spaces, as she says the current system hasn’t worked in years. Lundy says there also needs to be stricter regulation of new construction as the builders often cut corners which inadvertently denies accessibility to people in wheelchairs. A lot of new buildings are “dressed up” to appear they’re up to code but they’re not, which she says then leads to the owner having to spend more money to repair the problems and get it right. Lundy will represent Iowa at the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant being held in Albany, New York, this summer. Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley was the head judge in this weekend’s competition in Iowa City which saw Lundy win the crown.
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