ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Nina Harrison of St. Paul is vying for the crown of Ms. Wheelchair America after winning Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota earlier this year.
Harrison is now on a national stage - right from her living room - competing against women from 30 states for the title of Miss Wheelchair America.
"I’m impressed by all the women," said Harrison.
The nonprofit competition started 50 years ago as a way to promote the achievements and the needs of people with mobility impairment. It’s grown over the decades. While entirely virtual this year, the event still includes all sorts of speakers and workshops aimed at helping advocates like Harrison become even stronger.
"The whole program is really about building women, building them up," said President of Miss Wheelchair America Shelly Loose. "And once they learn that they have a voice and they know how to start to use their voice, they become empowered and strong women that are ready to conquer the world."
Harrison worked in health care as a nursing assistant while raising her two children as a single mother. Her health took a drastic turn in 2003 when she was mistakenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which turned out to be neurosarcoidosis, and became a paraplegic. Now she is considered to be legally blind and uses a wheelchair for mobility. If she wins the Ms. Wheelchair America title, Harrison hopes to further shed light on the challenges caregivers and people living independently with mobility issues face.
"My goal is to show them with my wisdom and experience what can we do about this," said Harrison. "We need to sit down with legislative lawmakers, Department of Human Services, who have the opportunity to change these things that’s going on. Not just here, but this is happening all over the world."