Amanda Steiner crowned Ms. Wheelchair Kansas

Staff reporter

People are people. People with disabilities are just like everyone else.

That's the message Marion High School graduate Amanda Steiner sent during the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas competition and it made her a winner.

Amanda was crowned Sunday Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2008 at the Holiday Inn Holidome at Topeka.

"My grandmother (Hazel Hoefner of Marion) had been nagging me for years to do this," Amanda said.

Six years ago she met Carrie Greenwood who is the state coordinator of the competition.

Amanda received an application during the past several years and decided this was the year she was going to do it.

A Lawrence resident and a December graduate of the University of Kansas, Amanda earned a bachelor's degree of general studies in psychology. This semester, she is taking time off to apply at law schools and in a master's degree program. She's waiting to hear from the schools.

During the two-day pageant, Amanda competed with one other contestant, Bridgid Schwilling of Leavenworth. The women participated in two judging sessions on Saturday, each 15 minutes long with judges asking various questions.

On Sunday, the contestants had to give their platforms and answer two questions, randomly drawn.

Following the competition, Amanda was chosen by a panel of three judges to represent Kansas.

Amanda's platform is "Taking Away Independence: The Trouble with Accessible Parking."

"I hate it when people park on the lines in a handicapped parking zone," Amanda explained.

Sometimes handicapped people will park on the yellow lines in a handicapped parking space which is reserved for vans with lifts.

"When people do that, it doesn't allow enough room for me to lower the lift of my van," Amanda said. It's especially frustrating for her when she returns to her parked van and is unable to get in because someone has done this.

Her other concern is when non-disabled people park in a handicapped parking stall, resulting in her and other disabled people having to park elsewhere instead of the designated spaces.

The mission of the competition is to select a woman who is wheelchair mobile to successfully advocate, educate, and empower people on a state level.

As part of her responsibility as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, Amanda must make appearances or talk to groups at least twice a month for the next 12 months.

So far, Amanda's commitments include riding in the St. Patrick's Day parade Monday in Lawrence, and making an appearance and being recognized March 27 in the Kansas Senate.

In July, Amanda will travel to Rockville, Md., to compete in the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.

For the state competition, Amanda had to pay a $150 entry fee. To compete in the national pageant, about $1,500 will be needed to pay for the trip and other expenses.

Amanda became a quadriplegic in February 1999 in a car accident. She is the daughter of Perry and Barb Steiner of Marion.