As its name suggests, Ms. Wheelchair America is an annual pageant for woman who use wheelchairs. However, unlike traditional beauty pageants the winner is not chosen for being the most attractive, but for being “the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities.”

The pageant was started by Dr. Philip K. Wood in 1972 to promote the achievements and needs of those with disabilities. Every year, the winner uses her position to advocate for those with disabilities. Specifically, her duties include “promoting awareness of the need to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers, informing the able-bodied public of the achievements of the millions of people with disabilities across the nation, and assisting with the establishment of programs in all 50 states.”

Jennifer Lynn Adams, a motivational speaker and anti-bullying advocate, won this year’s pageant. She was born with partial limbs and bullied as a result. Yet she considers her struggles a gift instead of a burden, because they taught her “beyond our limitations is fulfillment and purpose.” Her goal as Ms. Wheelchair America is to “spread the message of acceptance and awareness to businesses, schools and legislators in America and demonstrate to everyone that having a disability is cool!”

Another of this year’s contestants was Theresa DeVera who suffered a severe asthma attack at age 20 which put her in a coma. The medical staff didn’t believe she’d recover, and even encouraged her parents to pull the plug and donate her organs. But her parents chose not to and three months later, DeVera awoke. Though she still can’t walk she retaught herself to speak, finished her bachelor’s degree, and went on to get a master’s degree.

DeVara said that she has “accomplished more disabled than I have able-bodied. It taught me never to take a minute of life for granted.”