On March 15-16, 2013 the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee organization held its pageant at Doubletree Hilton Hotel in downtown Chattanooga.

Pageant Day

The day started with a continental breakfast provided by the hotel. State Coordinator Samantha Moreno welcomed the contestants and gave a rundown of the itinerary for the day (which can be downloaded below). The contestants delivered their platform speeches in front of the judges. Little Miss Wheelchair Tennessee contestant Hanna Latimer performed “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Ramona Nichols and Jerry the Golden Retriever from the Goodwill Assistance Dog Academy lead a workshop on service dogs. Before lunch, contestants were interviewed by the panel of judges behind closed doors.

During lunch, Ezra Reynolds and Mitzi Davenport from the Signal Centers Assistive Technology demonstrated several pieces of low and high tech tools to assist people with disabilities.

After lunch, contestants were interviewed by the panel of judges behind closed doors for the second time. After the last round of interviews, Kirk Tcherneshoff, President of Tcherneshoff Consulting, presented a workshop on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III which deals with public accommodations. The final workshop of the day was led by Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2012, Jean-Marie Lawrence. She discussed what it was like to be a titleholder and what to expect at the national competition. Before the crowning ceremony, all ladies had their hair and makeup done and changed into their dresses.

2013 Pageant Day Schedule – PDF Format
2013 Pageant Day Schedule – MS Word Format

Crowning Ceremony

The formal crowning ceremony started with the Brainerd High JROTC Panther Battalion escorting the ladies to the stage area. The Brainerd High JROTC Panther Battalion then presented the colors. Samantha Moreno welcomed the crowd and passed the show over to the MC, Kirk Tcherneshoff, President of Tcherneshoff Consulting. Kirk introduced the judges and each contestant. During the fishbowl, the ladies picked a judges name from a hat. The judge they picked read them a question which they answered in front of the crowd. The contestants were asked two questions; one serious and one light hearted. The judges left to deliberate and tally scores.

While the judges tallied the scores, Jean-Marie presented the first ever Accessible Business Award to Big River Grille & Brewing Works located at 222 Broad Street in Chattanooga. No one from Big River was on hand to accept the award. Little Miss Wheelchair Tennessee contestant Hanna Latimer performed “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus for the crowd. There was not a dry eye in the house. The contestants delivered their platform speeches again, in front of the crowd, but they were not judged this time. Sam thanked the sponsors and volunteers. While waiting for the judges to return, Jean-Marie announced the winners of the Contestant Awards. The judges returned and handed the results to Kirk.

Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 Pageant Program – PDF Format

Contestant Awards

Outstanding Talent Award – Hanna Latimer
Best Speech Award – Ashley Grimes
Ms. Congeniality Award – Bliss Welch
People’s Choice Award – Ashley Grimes

Congratulations to all contestants!

Little Miss Wheelchair Tennessee 2013: Hanna Faith Latimer

Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013: Bliss Welch
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 1st runner-up: Ashley Grimes
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 2nd runner-up: Christy Earheart
Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2013 3rd runner-up: Jessica Goodman

Thanks to the Judges

Jeri Wasco – Jeri is the State Coordinator for Ms. Wheelchair District of Columbia. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two children. Jeri is active in the CP Group and other organizations.

Dr. Bryon Kluesner – Dr. Bryon Kluesner is the Adaptive Technology Coordinator for the Disability Resource Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Bryon is also an Adjunct Faculty member for the UTC School of Education in special education. He teaches a graduate course on assistive technology. He has worked at UTC for almost 7 years. He is currently a member of the Chattanooga Mayor’s Council on Disability. Bryon was born and raised in Southern Illinois. He received his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. While working at UTC, Bryon was a chaperone for two international study abroad trips. One trip was to the south Pacific Islands of Fiji, New Zealand & Australia. The second trip was to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

John Farrimond – John is the CEO of Siskin Children’s Institute. Siskin Children’s Institute is a non-profit organization based in Chattanooga, Tennessee that helps children with special needs, families and professionals through four areas of focus: education, outreach, health care and research. Previously, he served as a vice president at The Help Group, a Los Angeles based nonprofit serving children, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, and emotional problems. He earned his BFA from Missouri State University and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Media Coverage

Thank you to WDEF Channel 12 for covering the pageant which aired on Channel 12 at 11 PM that night. Watch the news clip below. Read the full story …

Thank you to WBBJ Channel 7 for interviewing Hanna on March 19, 2013.