Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ms. Wheelchair CA 2010 wins 1st Runner Up at the Ms. Wheelchair America 2011 pageant!!

I was SO excited when I had the opportunity to crown my 1st Runner Up as the new Ms. Wheelchair CA 2010 back in April 2010 when I was Ms. Wheelchair CA 2009. I am now ecstatic to announce that Jennifer Kumiyama just placed 1st Runner Up at the national Ms. Wheelchair America 2011 pageant!!!! I could not be more proud of her as a contestant, a friend, and a sister.

Check out her blog here to read a little bit more about her winning. And here's how California has done in the past three years at Nationals (amazing!):

MWCC 2008, Shannon Coe - 1st Runner Up
MWCC 2009, Alyson Roth - 2nd Runner Up
MWCC 2010, Jennifer Kumiyama - 1st Runner Up

Way to keep in the Top 5 for the past three years ladies!!! I am SO HAPPY!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ms. Wheelchair CA 2010, Jennifer Kumiyama, at the Ms. Wheelchair America Nationals!

Hi everybody!! Can I just tell you how excited I am to have my 1st Runner Up who was then crowned Ms. Wheelchair California 2010 at Nationals right now?! If you have Facebook, you can keep up with her activities by clicking here. Be her friend!

The Ms. Wheelchair America pageant is being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I'm putting a strong vote in for Jennifer to win! Her bubbly attitude, spirit, and personality along with all of the advocacy she has done will surely land her in at least the Top 5!

Here is a link to a news interview she was in this morning alongside Ms. Wheelchair Michigan on the local news in Grand Rapids:

I am so proud of all Jennifer has done - representing and carrying on the fabulous tradition of great title holders from California!

On Saturday, you can watch the live crowning by going to this link.

Good Luck, Jennifer!!! I know you'll do great!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The New Ms. Wheelchair California 2010!!

Congratulations to Jennifer Kumiyama, the new Ms. Wheelchair California 2010! Though she will always be 1st Runner Up in the 2009 pageant, I am extremely proud of her for becoming my successor! Margarita Elizondo placed 1st Runner Up in the Ms. Wheelchair California 2010 pageant.

You can follow Jennifer's journey as Ms. Wheelchair California 2010 by clicking here.

Much luck and lots of love, Jennifer!

Ms. Wheelchair California 2010 Pageant

My final journey and weekend of being Ms. Wheelchair California 2009 was definitely bittersweet. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of the ladies who were vying for the next spot as Ms. Wheelchair California, and I also enjoyed getting to see friends whom I've gained throughout this past year. It was so enjoyable!
I was able to help encourage and coach each lady through what the judges were looking for and expected as well as calm some nerves and answer questions about the year to come.
What a blessing it was this year to be featured in the upcoming documentary called "Defining Beauty: More than a Crown and a Sash." I'm so excited to see the final product!
Listening to some of the ladies' platform speeches was very encouraging as each clearly had a focus and platform that they believed in.
PMTD/Flexiciser is a fantastic sponsor of the Ms. Wheelchair California program, and each winner is allowed to have one in her home for the entire year of her reign. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to use this wonderful movement therapy device as it helped decrease my spasms, reduced my nerve pain, and allowed my muscles to relax after a long day of appearances. I couldn't wait to get home off the airplane and get right into this amazing machine!
Erika Bogan, Ms. Wheelchair America 2010, was able to be with us at the Abilities Expo during our pageant. How exciting to have the actual "queen" with us!
Some of the ladies preparing for the crowning!
A surprise visit from the newly crowned Ms. Wheelchair Washington came to visit!
I couldn't have asked for a better year than the year I held the title of Ms. Wheelchair California 2009. I have enjoyed every moment, each person I've met, and the memories that will truly last a lifetime. Thank you to each and every one of you who supported me and encouraged me along the way, and a special thanks to the Ms. Wheelchair California and Ms. Wheelchair America Board for allowing me this opportunity.
Don't forget, though, this isn't the end!! I still hold my 2nd Runner Up to Ms. Wheelchair America 2010 title through the end of August 2010! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ms. Wheelchair California 2009 Farwell Speech

My year as Ms. Wheelchair California 2009 was a blast, and I have many, many wonderful memories from such a successful year. Thank you to everyone who encouraged and supported me. I was honored with the title of 2nd Runner Up at Ms. Wheelchair America 2010 in August, and I look forward to the years ahead as to what doors and paths open up next for me! Thank you everyone! Enjoy the video!

Friday, April 9, 2010

PMTD Movement Gala

I was excited to be a part of the Physical Movement Therapy Device (PMTD) Movement Therapy Gala (Flexiciser) on April 8th at the Marriott in downtown Los Angeles. Wonderful people, great food, contagious laughter, and an amazing medical movement device called the Flexiciser makes for one amazing evening! I was honored to sit at one of the head tables with the President of Flexiciser, Bryan Mallidine, as well as some friends of mine.
The director, Alexis Ostrander, of the upcoming documentary, "Defining Beauty: More than a Crown and a Sash" was there as well, so we got our picture taken in front of the "famous background".
Sitting with me at the table was Dr. Suzy Kim who was awarded the "Medical Practitioner Excellence Award." Though I don't see her as "Dr. Suzy Kim," I was so proud of her! I know her from surfing!! So seeing each other dressed up was a rarity, as we are usually in wetsuits alongside each other.

Another great friend is Madonna Long of Cloe Magazine. We had so many laughs that night!
I was also honored to sit alongside Erica Davis who recently (February 2010) conquered Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania... in a wheelchair! Simply amazing and awe inspiring!

Richard Kiel was honored with an award as well, and while up on the stage sharing his story, my jaw dropped as I heard his story. We both suffered disabilities while leaving Yosemite National Park. We chatted for quite some time as we shared similar stories, and he is a born again Christian. He is a great guy and sincerely enjoyed meeting him. In case you don't recognize him, he was "Jaws" in the "The Spy Who Loved Me" among many others like "The Giant of Thunder Mountain" and "Happy Gilmore."
Thank you for such a special night of wonderful inspiration!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Orange County Mixer

The Ms. Wheelchair California Organization was invited by the Largest Mixer in Orange County to have a booth among many other vendors at the Orange County Fairgrounds on March 24, 2010. At our booth, we showcased each of the lovely ladies who were entered to compete in the next Ms. Wheelchair CA 2010 pageant! It was a wonderful display and I got to talk to a lot of people.

I even ran into a friend from church, Robert Glover, as he was there on behalf of his Chiropractic business. Yay!
And no event would be complete without Michael Jackson, right? Obviously, he does still live among us. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hockey Time!

Hockey is a favorite past time of mine. Not that I ever played hockey, but my dad was a very good hockey player back in the day, and believe it or not, my mom was a hockey cheerleader - on ice skates! Needless to say, I love watching hockey - in person!

I was able to go to what used to be called "The Pond" but now called the "Honda Center" to watch the Anaheim Ducks play the Montreal Canadians. I figured it was going to be a good game because of what happened at the Winter Olympics in Canada and the hockey teams. I was extremely excited for this game!

Like most sporting venues, there are vendors selling paraphernalia everywhere. The Ducks aren't doing that great of a job this season, but I still route for them nonetheless!
The stadium was packed! One of the advantages of being in a wheelchair is that you get pretty good seating if you know how to work it right. I've never been down to sit "on the glass" (which I think would be A-MAZING), but the seats I get are usually really good and I can see everything that's going on - fights and all!

Well, guess who noticed me in attendance at the Stadium? EVERYONE! I was filmed and put on the big jumbo-tron waving to everyone, and immediately the Ducks Girls came over for pictures. This led to me being on camera AGAIN - having to dance with the girls! Oh my goodness - talk about embarrassing! But I did it!

Sadly, the Ducks lost in overtime which then led to a Shoot Out! I love hockey, and even though the Ducks lost, I had a great time representing Ms. Wheelchair California and showing the thousands of people there that those of us in wheelchairs can do everything and have fun just like everyone else!

Go Ducks!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MWCC tries Adaptive Snow Skiing!

I had the amazing opportunity to do something I've always wanted to learn how to do since I've become paralyzed. Before I got hurt, I used to love to snow ski! I would always challenge myself to do bigger and better hills, and eventually worked myself to flying down black diamond hills!

But, I had a chance to mark something off of my to-do list, and it definitely won't be my last time! I learned how to mono-ski!!

Big Bear Mountain in Southern California has a fantastic adaptive program that I've seen on the internet for quite awhile but have never had the guts to actually go up and take advantage of the program. The United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC) was founded in 1983 to ensure that access to skiing is available to people with many types of disabilities. The first full-time, on-site adaptive ski school was established in 1989 at Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort in Southern California. It relies on amazing volunteers to help assist each participant, and I was fortunate to have two of the best (in my opinion), Tim and Sara!

There was so much unknown about a sport I've never done since becoming hurt almost 10 years ago, but Sara and Tim were so encouraging, supportive, and confident that I'd master this sport in no time.

They helped me transfer from my wheelchair into a mono-ski, and then Tim taught me how to use the riggers (adapted poles) to help me turn. The most important part of skiing on a mono-ski is balancing, and it's all in your shoulders, upper body, and trunk support. The riggers are only there to help you turn. I didn't quite get the hang of it the first several times down the mountain because I kept reflecting back to how it "used to be." Sara would ski in front of me (backwards at that!), and Tim would ski behind me, holding on to me for support when I needed it (which was a lot at first).
But of course, I fell quite a bit. Ha! I laughed every time, except for the one time where I felt totally out of control and ran over someone and then someone ran over me. I guess that happens, though. Being so low to the ground, I felt like I was going so, so fast, but in reality, I wasn't going that fast at all. It was definitely a very different sensation than before when I was walking. But, I felt safe the entire time.

Hooray! I finally learned how to do it! Granted, I could only stay up by myself for about 10-15 seconds before I'd fall again. But, I was happy! I had such a fun, fun time up there, and I certainly want to make it back up there so I can get even better. Sara and Tim were excellent teachers, and I highly recommend you ask for them to help you!
There really isn't anything in life that you can't do when you're paralyzed. Yes, it may be a little different, but it shouldn't stop your life from being enjoyable, satisfying, and fun. I had a blast learning how to ski and had a smile on my face the entire time. Two thumbs up to the USARC program at Big Bear and to the wonderful volunteers that help make days like this possible for people with disabilities. You make a huge difference in providing confidence and positive self-esteem, so THANK YOU!

Snowball fight, anyone? :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

PacifiCord - You NEED to know about this company!

A friend of mine works at a phenomenal organization called "PacifiCord" and invited me to come for a visit. This company is a valuable life-source by saving baby's umbilical cord blood immediately after the baby is born. By saving this blood and the priceless stem cells that are in that blood, it can change the course of the future when and/or if something were to happen to your child. It is worth every penny.

Once the blood is extracted from the umbilical cord, it is then brought immediately to the lab at PacifiCord as you can see in the picture below. That is life saving blood right there!

Once the nurse manipulates the blood, she puts it in a machine that separates the blood from the stem cells. AMAZING! It is then spun in the machine below and frozen with the patients name on it. From there, it is entered back into the system and stored for your baby!

The day I visited, I had the indescribable opportunity to meet the Founder who happened to be in America from China. Truly an honor to meet him and ask questions about the future of stem cells and what he plans for the future (below). I had the chance to speak to the staff during their staff meeting about the Ms. Wheelchair California program as well as thank them for the work they do.

Below is the me with the President of PacifiCord, and then a group picture with a lot of the fantastic employees, certified nurses, and development department people who help spread the word to pregnant women about this important decision.

Having a spinal cord injury myself, I value this company and what they are doing to help save the lives of future disabilities and sicknesses. Had my parents had this option when I was born, perhaps I wouldn't have to be waiting on medical technology to figure out a way for me to walk again.

If you'd like more information on this life-saving organization for your future child, please visit the PacifiCord's website.

How much would it be worth to you if you had the chance to have a guarantee of a healthy child if anything were to happen to him or her?