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Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin competes for national crown

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison woman is vying for a national title in a competition celebrating women who struggle with mobility.

Martha Siravo, Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, is up against dozens around the country. The virtual Ms. Wheelchair America competition, according to the group’s website, is “based on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities.”

“My platform is ‘embrace inclusive education,’” Siravo said. “The individualized part of special education is something that I believe in with all my heart, and I want to see every student get the education that they need and deserve.”

Siravo said she hasn’t been able to walk since a car crash in 2002. “You have to accept your new normal, and the new normal means you’re going to be living life in a different way using a wheelchair,” she said.

In her journey to move forward, Siravo has advocated for others with mobility issues. This includes her daughter who relies on a leg brace and cane.

“I realized I had the time and then I had the knowledge and then I had the networking to keep doing more,” she said.

As the state titleholder for the last two years, Siravo has helped make Bernie’s Beach the first wheelchair-accessible beach in Madison.

The next Ms. Wheelchair America will be announced Saturday.

“I surely hope that she wins that title,” Autumn Neugent, a former state titleholder, said. “But I know whether she does or does not, it will not change who she is, and she will still remain a powerful advocate and empower everyone that she meets.”

Regardless of her title, Siravo said she hopes to help grow the pageant program in the state.

“It’s not about winning. It’s more about learning how to use your voice and then connecting with others around you,” she said.

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