When Myranda Gereau was 8 years old, Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin visited MDA Summer Camp and inspired Myranda so deeply, she vowed to follow her example.
“I remember going up to her at MDA Summer Camp and thinking maybe I could do this one day,” Myranda remembers.
This February, 13 years after that initial encounter, Myranda competed in the Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin pageant and fulfilled her dream of winning the crown.
Myranda, who lives with Bethlem myopathy, a subset of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy(LGMD), was attracted to the opportunity to advance her platform “We Are Able,” which aims to empower young adults with disabilities to feel confident and supported in achieving their goals and dreams.
“There is no instruction manual on how to live with a disability,” she says. “It’s all trial and error, whether it’s setting your house up for modifications or dealing with stress. When you are a kid or teen, you already have the stress of wanting to be included and trying to figure out where you belong, and to have a disability on top of that can be challenging. I know when I was in high school I would love to have had someone to talk to about all that.”
As Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, Myranda advocates for and represents people with disabilities in the state. In addition to her duties as Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, Myranda is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, on her way towards earning her degree in human services. “My dream job would be to help kids with disabilities in schools and in hospitals,” she says of her career goals.
Growing up with MDA
Initially diagnosed with LGMD at age 2, Myranda received a more specific diagnosis of Bethlem myopathy eight years later. Today, Myranda is a patient at the MDA Care Center at Prevea Clinic in Green Bay.
In addition to Myranda’s transformative encounter with the pageant world at MDA Summer Camp, MDA also enabled Myranda to get a head start on the advocacy experience that today is the center of her “We Are Able” platform as Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin. She started out as a local ambassador in her region of the state and went on to become a two-time Wisconsin state ambassador.
Whether as an MDA ambassador or for her duties as Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, Myranda enjoys being able to visit different groups of people and speak at events and locations throughout the state. Wherever she goes, she spreads her message of positivity, achievement and empowerment.
In mid-August, Myranda will compete in the Ms. Wheelchair America national pageant in Erie, Pennsylvania. At the pageant, Myranda will have the ability to share her “We Are Able” platform with a wider audience.
Myranda believes that the Miss Wheelchair competition is something that more people should know about and participate in. “Not many people know about it. If they find out about it and want to do it, it’s a great experience. You can get your voice heard, get your platform out there, and you will meet and help so many people.”
Myranda concludes with one piece of advice she is especially passionate about and is the centerpiece of her “We Are Able” message she will be sharing at the pageant: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. I have been told that so many times, and every time, I say ‘watch me.’ You can’t always take someone else’s word. You can always find a way to do something. It may not be the normal way per se, but you are always able to do things.”
Myranda is fundraising for her trip to the national Ms. Wheelchair America pageant, and she can be contacted via Facebook.