Reese heads to 2003 Ms. Wheelchair America program
HIGH HOPES – Nikki Reese of Meridian will represent Mississippi in the Ms. Wheelchair America program in Rockville, Md. Reese, a news producer for "Live at Five" at WTOK-TV has been confined to a wheelchair since age 18. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
July 29, 2002
For the past 10 years, Nikki Reese has been confined to a wheelchair, but that hasn't slowed her down.
Reese, who is participating this week in the 30th Ms. Wheelchair America program, says she is still in shock about being nominated to represent Mississippi.
At age 14, Reese learned she had the very rare disease that effects only about 200 people in the world.
Sharon Burt, an independent living specialist for the Meridian district of Living Independence For Everyone, a non-profit organization that assists people with disabilities, nominated Reese.
The 28-year-old Reese has been busy preparing her wardrobe and speech.
For Reese, the trip will a homecoming of sorts, as she grew up in nearby New York.
The event will showcase contestants' community skills, self-perception and projection as they compete for the crown in three categories: personal interviews, on-stage interviews and public speaking.
To enter, women must be between 21-60 years old and use a wheelchair for daily mobility.
The 2003 winner will travel the country urging the elimination of architectural and attitudinal barriers and promoting the startup of programs in states that do not have their own Ms. Wheelchair America contests.
The non-profit program was started in 1972, in Columbus, Ohio, and is completely coordinated by volunteers. The patriotic theme of this year's program is "From Sea to Shining Sea."