Fanchon “Fannie” Pierce emerged victorious in the annual pageant, which honors and supports women with disabilities; she also received the People’s Choice Award.
Pierce’s inspiring journey was highlighted in a report by People magazine, where she emphasized the significance of self-belief and determination. She said, “You don’t need someone tapping on your shoulder telling you, ‘You can do it.’ You can tell yourself that.”
In 2009, Pierce was shot seven times, resulting in a spinal cord injury that led her to rely on a wheelchair. Today, she is a role model, a member of six national honor societies, and the owner of We Will Wheel, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peer mentoring.
Pierce’s journey has now brought her to the spotlight as the winner of the 2023 Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant. This nationwide competition celebrates the uniqueness and strength of individuals who use wheelchairs. Contestants begin by entering an application package that is judged, resulting in state and regional winners. Titleholders then compete with other national finalists in a ten-day event held every July in Northeast, Ohio, Ms. Wheelchair USA states on its website.
“Ms. Wheelchair USA provides a national platform for women with disabilities to exhibit their own kind of glamour, while encouraging and informing the viewers and all those involved,” the organization noted.
Pierce started a significant trip around numerous schools, conferences, and communities across the state after being named Ms. Wheelchair Illinois in March. She aimed to encourage people to stand up for themselves by sharing her personal story.
In the week preceding the final pageant held on July 28 and 29 in Ohio, Pierce and the other finalists engaged in daily educational sessions and group activities. These included creative endeavors like painting, visits to renowned landmarks such as the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as a lively karaoke party, as shared in a Facebook post.
As the crowned winner of Ms. Wheelchair USA, Pierce will now embark on a countrywide tour, where she will deliver guest speeches and make appearances. Additionally, she has earned a management contract, as stated on the event’s official website.
In a Facebook post recently, Pierce wrote that “Telling my life story of being shot 7 times can be emotional and inspiring for many people. One of my main reason for not giving up is traveling to create positive social change.”
“I’m NOT giving up!” she stated.