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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Second-grader to compete in state pageant
Kacie Hodges is confined to a wheelchair
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Kacie Hodges (right) posed for a picture with Ms. Wheelchair Virginia, Brittany Yates, recently at Wendy’s in Rocky Mount. Kacie will represent Franklin County in the Little Miss Wheelchair Virginia Pageant in March.

Monday, December 2, 2013

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

Kacie Hodges of Rocky Mount will represent Franklin County in the Little Miss Wheelchair Virginia Pageant in March.

Kacie, a 7-year-old second-grader at Sontag Elementary, recently met Ms. Wheelchair Virginia, Brittany Yates, when Yates visited the elementary school to talk with students about her platform and motto, "Taking the 'Dis' out of Disability."

During Yates' visit, Kacie had the opportunity to speak with Yates about her life in a wheelchair and the Ms. Wheelchair Virginia program.

"Kacie loves meeting others who are in wheelchairs," said her mother, DeeDee Hodges. "It makes her feel like she's not alone."

Kacie was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of 16 months.

Yates told Kacie about a Little Miss Wheelchair Virginia program for younger kids.

"When Kacie found out about that, her face beamed with excitement," said Hodges. "I never would have dreamed of Kacie wanting to be in a pageant because she doesn't like to dress up or have her nails painted."

"But, if there is anything out there that Kacie wants to do, and she sets her mind to it, I will always give her the opportunity," she added. "This child has so much determination that I will always give her the chance to fly."

Although she is unable to walk by herself, Kacie can get around with her "Sit-to-Stand" motorized wheelchair.

"Kacie amazes me every day with her accomplishments," said Hodges. "It's all in what you can do, and not what you can't do for these kids."

Kacie said she enjoys swimming, snorkeling, fishing, going to school, friends, playing on the Franklin County Challengers Little League baseball team, participating in Girl Scouts and riding her 4-wheeler.

"The list is endless because she has such a strong will to do anything," said Hodges.

Kacie will travel to Fishersville on March 15 to participate in the pageant portion of the program when Bailee Masters of Roanoke will relinquish her crown to the new Little Miss Wheelchair Virginia.

The Ms. Wheelchair Virginia program is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the accomplishments of Virginians with disabilities. It is led by a board of directors and operates through volunteer efforts.

Program sponsors include AmeriCorps, Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, Independent Lifestyles and Goodwill Industries of the Valley.

The Ms. Wheelchair Virginia program has a mission to educate, advocate and raise awareness of the abilities and needs of the disabled community in order to influence attitudinal, architectural and social change for all Virginians, according to its website.

Each year, a female wheelchair user is selected as "titleholder" through a weekend of educational workshops, judging interviews, platform speech and on-stage interview questions.

As Ms. Wheelchair Virginia, Yates, who hails from Bassett, is spending her year-long reign speaking at different schools and events to educate others about the lifestyle and needs of the disabled.

The Ms. Wheelchair Virginia Pageant is for contestants 21 to 60 years of age. Contestants must use a wheelchair for 100 percent of daily mobility, and they must reside in Virginia at least six months prior to the pageant weekend.

Contestants must also convey a strong message about an issue relating to people with disabilities, and they must agree to serve as the state titleholder at the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant.

There is no registration fee for contestants who wish to participate in the Little Miss Wheelchair Virginia Pageant. It is for girls ages five to 12.

For more information about the program or the pageant, or to become a sponsor for Kacie, visit www.mswheelchairva.com or email info@mswheelchairva.com.

Questions can also be answered by phone at (800) 345-WWRC, ext. 7905, or (540) 332-7905.

Tax deductible donations can be addressed to Ms. Wheelchair Virginia Inc., C/O Kacie Hodges, Little Miss Ambassador, P.O. Box 1500, W-513, Fishersville, VA 22939.

"I had no idea that a program like this even existed," said Hodges. "Kacie is very excited and I want to spread the word to others who would like to participate."

Kacie is the daughter of Coy and DeeDee Hodges of Rocky Mount.

 
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