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Michael McGrath of Knoxville, TN passed away on October 6th 2015. His death was due to complications from his congestive heart failure. He was 34 years old.
Michael McGrath was a MWA “lifer”. He began supporting the Ms. Wheelchair America program as a resident of Maryland, where he befriended state coordinator, Robert Watson. Michael volunteered as a judge on several occasions and was fortunate to meet many of the women who would go on to compete for and win the title of Ms. Wheelchair America.
In 2009, he and Samantha Moreno happened to “meet” online and form a quick friendship. The two were linked not only as wheelchair users and individuals living with muscular dystrophy, but they also shared a desire to advocate for and with people with disabilities. Michael encouraged Samantha to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma, which is where she lived at the time. He also traveled to Michigan to cheer Samantha on as she competed for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America.
Michael and Samantha started a life together in Tennessee in 2011. Soon after, they were also asked to revive the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization. It was an exciting time and, while it was challenging, they brought life back to the program. Michael served as the organization Treasurer, webmaster, technical writer, and anywhere else he was needed. He was the true definition of the word Volunteer and never said “no” to anyone who needed his help.
Michael is survived by his loving family. Samantha wrote once after a Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee Crowning Ceremony: “Thank you to my husband Mike McGrath. When people are questioning my every judgement and when I feel like I can’t see the finish line, you are my peaceful getaway and constant encouraging presence.” He will be missed terribly.
July 20, 2015, Knoxville, Tennessee
On July 27th, Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, Jenny Morton will take her very first airplane flight in her 32 years of life. She will be taking off for Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the national Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant. The competition begins as soon as all of the titleholders from each of the participating states arrive, and will culminate in the highly anticipated announcement of the new Ms. Wheelchair America.
The entire Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization would like to wish our Jenny Morton safe travels and all the best as she joins her fellow wheel sisters for what many competitors call a “life changing” event. The week is packed full of workshops, interviews with judges, and of course, fun. Jenny is “looking forward to making lifelong friends” and we know she will have no trouble doing this.
As Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, Jenny Morton traveled across the state of Tennessee attending events and promoting the organization so that we can continue for years to come. Individuals who are interested in becoming the next Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee or would like to be involved in other ways may visit our website at www.mswheelchairtn.org or speak with the State Coordinator, Samantha at 865-441-6888.
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee is charged with a continuing effort to educate the public regarding the dignity, productiveness and basic values of people with disabilities. She must be able to communicate both the needs and abilities of her constituency to the general public, the business community and government. Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee will have the opportunity to travel and make public appearances, and she will ultimately represent Tennessee at the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.
Rachel is 19 years old and was born with a mitochondrial disease called pyruvate dehydrogenese complex. She currently attends Chuckey Doak High School. She likes to be out and about, is always smiling, and has a positive attitude. Rachel is from Greenville and describes herself as an angel, amazing, beautiful, engaging, and happy. Rachel would like to spread awareness about Pyruvate Dehydrogenese Complex. There is little known about this disease and education and funding is needed to help doctors with proper care and one day, find a cure. Rachel will continue her reign through 2016.