“I was kind of surprised I guess,” Steiner said of the win. “It was really close, the judges said, so I knew it could be either one of us.”
The Ms. Wheelchair Kansas program annually selects one woman who is wheelchair mobile to advocate, educate and empower all people on a state level.
According to MWKS, the competition is not a beauty contest, but instead selects the most articulate and accomplished delegate to serve as a role model and spokesperson for people with disabilities in Kansas.
“This isn’t based at all on beauty,” Steiner said of the competition. “They base it on what you’ve done and what you want to do.”
The 2008 competition was comprised of two contestants, Steiner and Bridgid Schwilling of Leavenworth.
During the judging sessions, the contestants were scored based on accomplishments, self-perception, communication and projection skills.
The three-day event included two personal interview sessions, a platform speech presentation and an on-stage interview.
Steiner said the three judges who evaluated the candidates weren’t intimidating.
“They were really nice and we had to meet with all three at once,” she said. “They kept telling me, ‘Be yourself.’”
Steiner said the two personal interview sessions were each 15 minutes long, and the judges were able to ask as many questions as fit within the timeframe.
Steiner also was asked two on-stage questions, one of which was, ‘If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?’
But, she said, “I don’t remember (what I said.)”
She does, however, remember what she said during her platform speech, which she titled, “Taking Away Independence: The Trouble With Accessible Parking.”
Steiner said she focused on the frustration of handicapped, van-accessible parking spaces being occupied by cars.
“That annoys me,” she said. “As do people who park in the lined space that’s supposed to be for no parking, and people park there anyway.”
Steiner’s solution to the problem is to have separate parking permits for car and van accessible parking.
“I also said when new tags or permits are issued, people should have to go through a little education course just so they can learn why there are lined spaces and things like that—just so people know,” Steiner said.
Now that she holds the title, Steiner will make at least two appearances or speeches each month throughout the next year.
“I’m kind of excited but I’m kind of nervous, too,” she said.
Steiner, a December graduate of the University of Kansas, will also compete in the national Ms. Wheelchair competition in July. She isn’t allowed to pay her own way to compete in the competition.
“They’re (MWKS) requiring me to get sponsors,” Steiner said.
Cost of the national competition is $1,500.
To sponsor Steiner in the national competition, donations can be sent to Amanda Steiner, 2613 Knollbrooke Court, Lawrence, KS 66046.