Fanchon Pierce to tour nation after being crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA 2023

“Believing in yourself goes a long way,” Pierce says

A Black mother from Chicago will embark on a nationwide tour after being crowned winner of the 2023 Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant.

Fanchon “Fannie” Pierce, who lives in the Windy City, took home the top prize and the People’s Choice Award last month in the annual pageant dedicated to celebration, empowerment and advocacy for women with disabilities, as first reported by People.

“Believing in yourself goes a long way. You don’t need a crowd. You don’t need someone tapping on your shoulder telling you, ‘You can do it.’ You can tell yourself that,” Pierce said following her win, the magazine reported.

Fanchon Pierce. (Screenshot: YouTube – People)

Pierce, 35, was shot seven times in 2009, damaging her spinal cord and ultimately requiring her to begin using a wheelchair, per the report.

Now a mother of three, a member of six national honor societies and owner of the nonprofit peer mentoring organization We Will Wheel, Pierce continues to use her platform to inspire others to thrive despite life’s unexpected challenges.

The Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant hosts competitions at the state, regional and national levels for adults who use a wheelchair. Participants are invited to celebrate what makes them unique in a series of speeches and interviews, culminating in a 10-day ceremony in July, per the event website.

“Ms. Wheelchair USA recognizes that all women, despite any disability, can be glamorous, and can exhibit self-confidence in personal, professional, and public life,” the organization said.

After being named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois in March, Pierce toured various schools, conferences and living communities across the state to share her story and encourage self-advocacy.

In the week leading up to the final pageant, held July 28th and 29th in Ohio, Pierce and other finalists participated in daily educational sessions and group activities. That included painting, visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as singing at a karaoke party, per a Facebook post.

As the winner of Ms. Wheelchair USA, Pierce will tour across the country in a series of guest speeches and appearances. She additionally earned a management contract, according to the event website.

In a interview with local Illinois outlet WSIL News 3, Pierce said the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant “gives us all a chance to be able to be heard. To be not muted in a world full of others. To be able to be celebrated.”

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