For the next 12 months, Karen Roy from Baton Rouge, Louisiana will hold the title of Ms. Wheelchair America. Karen won the 47th annual competition earlier this month in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From July 30th through August 5th, women from 26 states gathered for this year’s Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. During the crowning ceremony hosted by actress and advocate Jennifer Kumiyama, this year’s contestants presented their powerful platforms. Over the next few weeks, we are honored to share their stories with you. Below is Karen’s inspiring story.
Karen was introduced to the Ms. Wheelchair America conference over a decade ago when it was held in her home state and she was encouraged to compete. At the time, all three of her children still lived at home and she worked long hours at the local Neuromedical rehabilitation hospital. Due to these factors, Karen felt as if she could not put in the time and effort she felt holding the title of Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana deserved.
A little over three years ago, Karen accepted a new job with Numotion as the Gulf South Territory Manager. They encouraged her to participate in more advocacy projects and Karen got involved at both the state and national level. She attended public hearings and congressional meetings, fighting for better access to medical equipment. As her involvement grew, she decided it was the right time to compete in Ms. Wheelchair America.
Karen’s winning platform “Stand for Life” focuses on improved awareness for medical technology that is not currently covered by insurance companies. One of the medical devices she’s advocating for are stand-up wheelchairs. They have many physical benefits including improved circulation as well as preventing contractures and pressure sores. Surgeries to correct these problems can cost upwards of $10,000, but insurance companies will still not cover the few thousand dollars difference between stand-up and traditional power wheelchairs.
Over the next year, Karen will travel to several expos, events, and conferences meeting with members of the community to help raise accessibility awareness and share her platform. She will even join the MobilityWorks team at the San Mateo Abilities Expo later this fall.
Congratulations Karen, we look forward to your successful year as 2019 Ms. Wheelchair America!