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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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Stanley crowned Ms. Wheelchair Franklin County
Bassett woman advocates for individuals with physical challenges
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Courtesy Photo: Daphne Stanley of Bassett is the new Ms. Wheelchair Franklin County. She was crowned (above) March 15 during the state pageant in Fishersville.

Friday, April 4, 2014

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

Daphne Stanley of Bassett was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Franklin County during the state pageant March 15 in Fishersville.

The theme of the MWVA program, "Celebrate Life," showcases the accomplishments of remarkable women who have overcome challenges and obstacles to achieve and accomplish great success.

Stanley, 31, was born with spina bifida and scoliosis. Her foot was amputated at the age of 14, but she remained active and athletic with the use of crutches.

"It took developing the need to use my chair completely to make me really start seeing the issues that people with disabilities face," said Stanley. "After 28 years of walking and getting around, I was confused with what being in a wheelchair meant for me."

Stanley said her fiance, David, who is a U.S. Army veteran, encouraged her to figure out what she was still able to do.

"I didn't realize that my life continued, just with new adventures," said Stanley. "The Ms. Wheelchair Virginia program showed me that."

Stanley said she developed the need to advocate early in life.

"My brother, Justin, has several severe disabilities, and spending time with him and in his classrooms, I understood the need to reach out," she said.

Stanley competed in the MWVA pageant for the first time last year.

"The first time I competed, I was amazed at the women who competed with me and the stories and lives that I learned about," said Stanley. "It was a new experience for me. Though I didn't place that year, I came away with more than I could imagine -- friends, support and a new understanding that I wasn't just the girl in the wheelchair, but that I was a woman who uses a wheelchair and has a purpose to advocate and speak up for the issues that people in difficult situations face."

Winning the Ms. Wheelchair Franklin County title this year was a total surprise, Stanley said.

"Everyone needs to understand that there is power in one voice," Stanley said. "When I won the title this year, I instantly new that I had a purpose and a stronger voice to reach out to the community and show them the lessons I had to learn."

Stanley said she will compete for the state title again, but for now, she feels called to share her message and platform with local communities.

"I am very blessed and excited to get started," said Stanley. "I have always said that if I can help one person, then everything that I have been through in my life has been worth it. My rule and motto is teaching people to 'Find Your Courage. Find Your Voice'."

Stanley is a 2001 graduate of Staunton River High School and a 2006 graduate of Lynchburg College (LC).

She is a 2001 Horatio Alger National Scholar and graduated LC with honors. She majored in history, minored in religious and museum studies.

"The only struggle I'm having right now is transportation," said Stanley, who lost her car recently in a traffic accident. "I'm hoping and praying that I might be able to find someone who can help me with getting transportation."

Stanley was not the only local winner in the MWVA pageant.

Kacie Hodges, 7, of Rocky Mount was selected as one of two Little Miss Wheelchair Virginia Ambassadors for 2014-2015.

"It's not about what you can't do, it's all about what you can do in having a disability," said Hodges.

Hodges is the daughter of Coy and DeeDee Hodges of Rocky Mount. She is a second-grader at Sontag Elementary.

Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 16 months, Hodges decided her platform would be "Taking the 'Dis' out of Disability."

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 speeches and on-stage interview questions.

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 5 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.

 
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