Lincoln’s Pedersen to represent Rhode Island at Ms. Wheelchair Nationals

Lincoln’s Pedersen to represent Rhode Island at Ms. Wheelchair Nationals

Lincoln resident Tina Guenette Pedersen, pictured at a recent Pawtucket Red Sox game, will represent Rhode Island at the 47th annual Ms. Wheelchair America national competition next week.

LINCOLN – Lincoln’s Tina Guenette Pedersen is bound for Grand Rapids, Mich., to represent the state of Rhode Island at the 47th annual Ms. Wheelchair America national competition, a weeklong conference celebrating the achievements of women with disabilities.

From Monday, July 30, to Sunday, Aug. 5, Pedersen and 25 other contestants will participate in a “Leadership Institute,” including mentoring, workshops, and private and public presentations, including a platform speech presentation and on-stage questions.

The women will be judged based on their ability to make a difference in the lives of the more than 56 million Americans living with disabilities. The conference will culminate with a Crowning Gala on Saturday, Aug. 4, where Ms. Wheelchair America 2019 will be crowned.

Pedersen, whose platform is “accessibility with dignity,” said she’s “looking forward to learning what other states are doing for their disabled and see whether any of it can work back here in Rhode Island, as well as getting different perspectives about making positive changes.”

Most of all, she said, she’s excited to “spend a week with very empowered women who have overcome so much and are truly making a difference.”

Pedersen herself has overcome enormous challenges in her life. She is a breast and bladder cancer survivor who in 2014 had a stroke during a surgery that affected her spinal cord and rendered her unable to walk.

She quickly learned how far from ADA-compliant most public places in the Ocean State are, including restaurants, beaches and funeral homes. If Pedersen brings home the title of Ms. Wheelchair America, she said she would use her platform to advocate for stronger ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws and economically feasible ways for businesses to become more accessible.

“My goal is to truly make a difference for Rhode Island,” Pedersen said in a post on her Facebook page 2018 Ms. Wheelchair Rhode Island. “Full, inclusive lives are what it’s all about.”