Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2006
My name is Rebecca
Crosby. You can also call me Becky, Becca, or any variation thereof. I come
from a large family, so I even respond to “Hey, You!” on occasion. I have
one of my closest friends, Rochelle, otherwise known as Ms. Wheelchair D.C.
2006, to thank for my being crowned Ms. Wheelchair Florida on January 21.
With her encouragement, I followed in her wheelchair tracks and decided to
pursue the title. (I can’t very well say footsteps, can I?)
Though I knew of Rochelle’s intentions to enter her state’s
pageant, I was initially hesitant to enter the Ms. Wheelchair Florida.
I’ve always been an advocate, even before I knew what an advocate was. I
was born with Cerebral Palsy and grew up with two older sisters. It was
no surprise when, at the age of seven, my parents plastered a bumper
sticker on the back of my wheelchair that read, “God made men and
rested. God made women and nobody’s rested since.” I was hesitant to
enter the pageant, only because I was entering my last semester of
graduate school at the time, as I was earning my Master’s degree in
In my attempts to become a well-rounded social worker, I
spent some time learning about other client populations. I took courses in
cultural diversity, spirituality, couples counselling, and substance abuse. I
even spent some time as an intern working with clients who were dealing with
crisis pregnancies. Though I enjoyed my work, I felt putting so much focus
into these other areas led me too far away from advocacy for people with
disabilities. I wasn’t sure how effective an advocate I would be.
As ironic as it sounds, I eventually realized that all the
time I’d spent focused on other advocacy efforts actually made me a better
advocate for people with disabilities. I formed my platform, “Access to Open
Minds” around the idea that people with disabilities need to see and be seen
by able-bodied people in order to make change happen for the better.
It’s easy for us as people with disabilities to isolate
ourselves in our homes or to only participate in disability-friendly
activities in order to avoid negative attention. That’s an easy
temptation to give in to, but not a healthy one. I believe that it also
causes fear in people who are able-bodied, because they don’t know what
to expect when they interact with us. We need to let the world know what
we’ve known all the time—that we have the same right as anyone else does
to pursue our dreams and be happy. We’re worth it!
See you soon ladies!
1. Rebecca at the National Junior
Disability Championship, in Tampa, FL, The event had a Hawaiian luau
theme, but was very rainy. Photo taken by Michael Curley on July 23,
2. Rebecca at the 8th Annual Family CAFE Conference
in Orlando, FL, on June 2, 2006. The conference gives people with
disabilities and their families a chance to network and share
3. Rebecca with two employees (Fiorella and Lina)
at Oviedo, FL. The entire staff has been very enthusiastic about
supporting her fundraising efforts. Photo dated May 13th, 2006.
4. Rebecca with her friend and traveling companion
Ana Dela Rosa after the crowning ceremony at the state pageant, in
St. Petersburg, FL, January 21, 2006.