Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2023, a pageant that emphasizes advocacy and leadership over beauty, has been won by Chandra Smith, an African American woman with a disability from PG County, Maryland.
Chandra Smith, who is a 35-year-old IT engineer, defeated 2 other contestants in the statewide competition and will move on to the Ms. Wheelchair America nationwide competition after 7 months. There will be nearly 35 contestants from different states.
“I was very humbled and I was shocked, to say the least,” Smith told the Capital Gazette. “I was like, ‘OK, with this crown comes great responsibility.’ I’ll definitely be trying to get my message across, making sure that everyone knows that when you make things accessible for those with disabilities, the whole community benefits from it.”
Smith’s win came about a year ago since she became a triple amputee and sepsis survivor. Even after losing her left hand, right leg, and had more than 10 surgeries on her left leg, she said she did not lose hope and continued to fight.
Chandra Smith also wanted to use her talent and skills to bring change and make a difference. She is now an advocate for more accessible ramps, playgrounds, and doors to help those with wheelchairs.
Indeed, her compelling story as well as her composure, enthusiasm, and social media savvy stood out during the competition and made her win the crown, according to head judge Bong Delrosario.