ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A Roanoke woman is preparing for a pageant of epic proportions. Allyson Hart is wheelchair bound, but her challenges have not stopped her.
Next week, she will venture to Pennsylvania to compete in the national Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.
On most mornings, you can find Allyson working hard at the gym. But this week, Allyson is really in the zone. She has a pageant to prepare for. Ms. Wheelchair Virginia 2017 is headed to the national stage.
"I can be a good example for the disability community," said Allyson.
Allyson started losing her motor skills soon after she was born, so her wheelchair has been a source of strength for many years. And that's what pushed her into the pageant, wanting to show people that a disability does not a define a person. Allyson's father says letting her go was hard, but seeing her blossom made it a little easier.
"The hardest thing for a parent when you have a child with a disability is to make them do it themselves if they can't, to be willing to walk away to force them to figure it out," said Ross Hart, Allyson's father.
Allyson will head to Erie, Pennsylvania for the pageant next week. She'll go through on stage questions about disability-related issues, attend workshops, and give a personal speech. It's a lot of pressure for Allyson, but she says she's ready for the challenge.
"Im looking forward to meeting new friends, to learn, and I guess it will probably be a life-changing experience," said Allyson.
Ms.Wheelchair Virginia is finding her independence and finding her place in the spotlight.