Chandra Smith, a disabled African American woman from PG County, Maryland, has been named Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2023, a pageant that emphasizes advocacy and leadership over beauty. But she’s stunning!
Smith, a 35-year-old IT engineer, defeated two other statewide competitors and will compete in the Ms. Wheelchair America national competition in 7 months. There will be nearly 35 competitors from various states.
“I was very humbled and I was shocked, to say the least,” Smith told the Capital Gazette. “I was like, ‘OK, with this crown comes great responsibility.’ I’ll definitely be trying to get my message across, making sure that everyone knows that when you make things accessible for those with disabilities, the whole community benefits from it.”
Smith won about a year ago after becoming a triple amputee and sepsis survivor. She said she did not lose hope and continued to fight despite losing her left hand, right leg, and having more than ten surgeries on her left leg.
She also desired to use her abilities and skills to effect change and make a difference. She is now an advocate for more wheelchair-accessible ramps, playgrounds, and doors.
According to head judge Bong Delrosario, her compelling story, as well as her composure, enthusiasm, and social media savvy, stood out during the competition and helped her win the crown.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up by the contest organizers to help raise $10,000 for her expenses in joining the Ms. Wheelchair national competition. It has so far raised over $1,000.