The deadline is next week for Iowa women who use wheelchairs to apply to compete in the upcoming Ms. Wheelchair Iowa contest.

State coordinator Tasha DeGroote says the event focuses -not- on disabilities, but rather on the abilities of contestants. She says you must be at least 21 years old and be willing to make public appearances, either virtually or in person.

“You have to be a U.S. citizen for at least six months,” DeGroote says. “You have to be 100% wheelchair-bound for 100% of your daily mobility and must be willing to travel.” That travel includes a trip to the national competition for Ms. Wheelchair America next fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

DeGroote says a successful candidate will need to be able to communicate their passion to the public, and she emphasizes, this is -not- like the Miss Iowa pageant.

“There’s not a beauty contest as far as you don’t do the night gown, you don’t do the swimsuit competition, nothing like that,” she says.

DeGroote, who was Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2013, says the new titleholder will be selected based on what they’ve accomplished since the onset of the disability, whether it was a recent accident or a lifelong condition.

“Your accomplishments as far as what you’ve done in your life,” DeGroote says, “so to promote themselves, to fight for other women who may or may or may not be willing to speak up for themselves and help them out.”

The deadline to apply is October 24th. To apply, contact DeGroote through the Ms. Wheelchair Iowa Facebook page, at [email protected] or at (319) 464-7574.

This year’s contest will be held October 29th at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls.