As a sponsor of the 2018 Ms. Wheelchair America pageant, we were fortunate to be present as Sheri Melander-Smith was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2018. Her platform of “Living Forward” inspires all of us to be the best vision of what we dream our lives to be. Sheri believes that the most important achievement is to serve others.
For one week in August, constants from 25 states competed for the crown of Ms. Wheelchair America 2018 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Participants had a full week packed with activities including interviews, workshops and appearances; culminating with the presentation of their platform speeches. For Sheri Melander-Smith, the media attention was nothing new, as she is no stranger to the spotlight! At the age of 18, Sheri won the Midwest title for the “Face of the 80’s” as part of the Ford Agency’s competition in New York City. For the next six years, she traveled the world for photo shoots, commercials and was even on the pilot episode of the longstanding soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”.
At the age of 25 Sheri suffered a spinal aneurysm and chose to end her modeling career. She enrolled at UCLA, and upon graduation returned to Minnesota where she earned an MBA and master’s in psychology. Almost 15 years later her spinal aneurysm returned, and upon waking up from surgery Sheri had lost the use of her legs. Melander-Smith did not let the diagnosis hold her back as she quickly became a spokeswoman and advocate for the wheelchair community. Sheri returned to television with a cable program called ‘Living Forward’ and began writing for local publications and newspapers. Now that she is Ms. Wheelchair America, Sheri will be very busy over the next year sharing her message “Living Forward”.
One of her first scheduled appearances was earlier this month at the Boston Abilities Expo, where Sheri met with attendees and exhibitors displaying the latest in adaptive technology. As Ms. Wheelchair America, Melander-Smith will be in attendance at all of the Abilities Expos in the United States over the next year. Sheri also just returned from Hawaii where she visited several hospitals and was also able to enjoy the beautiful views from Waikiki beach.
Over the next year, she is most excited for her several trips to Washington D.C. “I look forward to meeting with National organizations and influencers who can help make a difference” Sheri stated “Past winners have had the opportunity to meet the president and I am currently working on scheduling a meeting with President Trump”. Sheri will also get the opportunity to watch her son play basketball on these trips. Oliver is a 6’10 Sophomore Center for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Sheri is just one of the many women we met at this year’s pageant that inspired us. Throughout the next several months we will be sharing with you the women, their advocacy and why they inspire all of us. Follow us on Facebook to ensure you don’t miss their stories.
To learn more about the pageant you may visit www.mswheelchairamerica.org or click here to be added to their weekly email list “Wheel Wednesday News” for the latest updates including state pageant contests and news from Sheri and past winners.