TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) The 2017 Ms. Wheelchair Kansas (MWKS) was recently crowned during a weekend ceremony held March 19, 2017, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Lawrence, Kan. Deb Young of Lawrence received her crown after participating in four judging sessions, as well as many other activities, throughout the three-day event held March 17-19. The weekend concluded with a formal crowning, where Deb was chosen as the new titleholder and fellow contestant Magda Carlos-Trevino, of Overland Park, was chosen as the runner-up. The third Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas was announced at the ceremony as well. Sophia Beers of Wichita will work alongside Deb in the coming year to empower Kansans with her title.
The crowning ceremony, held on Sunday, was attended by more than 70 family, friends, and community members. The event consisted of platform speeches by each of the two contestants, as well as two on-stage questions. The audience enjoyed a slide show of memories from the weekend; a keynote speech from Ranita Wilks, Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2006; and a farewell from the 2016 MWKS titleholder, Tiffany Walter of Olathe, and Little Miss titleholder, Aubrey May, also of Olathe.
Deb, the new titleholder, is a survivor and an educator! Deb has been through some challenging times in her life, but has not let that stop her from being independent and living life to the fullest. Because of an accident in 2013, Deb is an amputee. She is also a breast cancer survivor. She has not let these challenges define her though. Deb holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education/Early Childhood from Truman State, a Master’s degree in Special Education- Behavior Disorders from Emporia State, a Master’s degree in Special Education- Transition from the University of Kansas, and an EdS degree in Educational Leadership from Pittsburg State. She previously worked as an elementary teacher in USD 497; a director at a middle school in Blue Valley; and as a Special Education teacher, Assistant Special Education director, and principal for psychiatric facilities while employed with Greenbush for nine years. Deb currently lives in Lawrence, volunteers in elementary schools in USD 497, and serves on the Board of Directors for Independence, Inc. She is married, has two children, and is a huge Jayhawk fan.
Sophia, the new Little Miss, is an outgoing, happy, 10 year old who does not let anything hold her back! Sophia lives in Wichita with her family and currently attends Explorer Elementary School, where she is a 4th grader. She loves to get out in the community and participates in 5K races with her family. Sophia also enjoys swimming at her local YMCA. Sophia has had spina bifida since birth, but does not let that stop her from being full of life and active. She loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian or own a bakery someday.
Deb will serve as a role model and spokesperson for people with disabilities in Kansas in the coming year. She will strive to educate, advocate, and empower all people in our state. Deb will have the opportunity to travel throughout Kansas educating various groups about the issues of importance to people with disabilities. She will share her platform of “Disability Does Not Promote Dependence” with Kansans of all ages. With this platform, she will promote the message that having a disability does define individuals or take away from their independence. Deb will ultimately represent Kansas in the Ms. Wheelchair America competition, held in Erie, PA in August, where she will compete for the national title alongside 30 other women from varying states. Sophia will work alongside Deb to show the capabilities of people with disabilities. She will empower people of all ages, especially young people in our state.