HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi.
University of Southern Mississippi alum LisaAnn Redd hopes to take her advocacy for children in wheelchairs to a higher level as the new Ms. Wheelchair Mississippi winner. Redd, a Vicksburg, Miss., native, captured the state crown last month in Madison.
Redd earned her undergraduate degree and master's degree in Special Education at Southern Miss. She is currently employed as a preschool special education teacher at Mendenhall Elementary.
Redd entered the state competition on a whim after a friend's persistent persuasion. "I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I was doing it for the experience, not expecting to win," said Redd. "Then when I won, I thought: 'Yay. What have I gotten myself into?' "
Ms. Wheelchair Mississippi contestants must be 21 or older and should be full-time wheelchair users. Contestants must have lived in Mississippi for at least the previous six months. The state pageant consisted of preliminary judges' questions, on-stage formal attire, two on-stage judges' questions and a two-minute speech on the contestant's platform.
A tumor on her lower spine caused paralysis that has confined Redd to a wheelchair since age 5. Her platform as Ms. Wheelchair Mississippi is lack of access on school playgrounds for children in wheelchairs.
"Children in wheelchairs should have a piece of equipment that they can play on, instead of just watching their peers," said Redd. "I got into the teaching profession of special needs children because I can relate to the challenges they face. I want to share with them, as well as their parents, that there is no reason to have limits placed on them."
Redd noted that her parents played a vital role in helping her enjoy a childhood free of excessive limitations.
"I am grateful to them for raising me not as a child in a wheelchair, but just as a child," she said. "Growing up, my parents allowed me to participate in as many things as I could. I always felt loved, and was always told God loves you just the way you are."
Redd has qualified to compete in the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant set for August 8-13 in Grand Rapids, Mich. To learn more about Redd's platform, contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter -- @mswheelchairms.