Iowa’s spokeswoman for people with disabilities leaves Tuesday for a national competition in Washington D.C. It’s a week of firsts for Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2007. Luvoria Sanders, of Cedar Rapids, has never flown in a plane, never been to the nation’s capitol and she’s never taken part in an event like Ms. Wheelchair America.
Sanders says she’s a bit nervous about the pageant and the jet ride, but she’s thrilled to be going to Washington D.C. to take in the historic, beautiful sights. Sanders says, "I’d love to go see the Capitol and anything and everything that I can go see, I wanna’ see it." The 35-year-old has cerebral palsy and will compete against women from 26 other states for the crown.
"I’ve been practicing in my head my speech. We have to give a two-minute speech about our platform." Sanders’ platform focuses on a disparity in transportation costs, as the wheelchair lift bus in Cedar Rapids costs two-dollars a ride versus regular city buses for 50-cents.
The national contest isn’t a beauty pageant. The winner is chosen based on her accomplishments and will travel the U.S. promoting the –abilities– of people in wheelchairs. The crowning ceremony will be Saturday night. Sanders says she’s been dreaming about the week-long competition and she’s ready.
"It’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around but I know that I will represent Iowa in the best way that I can, " she says. Sanders says she’s proud to be living independently and working on the sales floor at Goodwill Industries in Cedar Rapids. One of her goals is becoming a foster parent, saying "children are my heart."
Radio Iowa anchor/reporter Matt Kelley will also be in Washington D.C. for this week’s pageant, serving as the event’s head judge.