- Associated Press - Saturday, August 1, 2015

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Auburn native Alexandra Yount is representing the state of Alabama among competitors from across the country and seeks to take her title to a national level.

Yount, who was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Alabama 2015 in March, traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, on July 26 to vie for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2016, where she will compete against 28 women from across the United States. The competition started July 27 and will continue through Aug. 2.

“There are so many beautiful, amazing women competing,” Yount said. “So I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But, I am so excited to have this opportunity to experience such an amazing cause. All I plan to do is just be myself.”

According to the organization’s website, the mission of the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant “is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Unlike traditional beauty pageants, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive individual. It is instead a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities.

“The selected representative must be able to communicate both the needs and the accomplishments of her constituency to the general public, the business community and the legislature.”

Yount, who has already served as an advocate for persons with disabilities across Alabama, has spent the months since her state crowning making public appearances, attending speaking engagements and meeting with officials including Auburn Mayor Bill Ham and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.

“Everything has been wonderful, and I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing individuals already,” said Yount, who works in the Office of Accessibility at Auburn University.

Yount set up a GoFundMe account a few months ago to raise money to get to Iowa, through which she exceeded her funding goal and raised $4,600 in donations.

“This goal was reached through community, friends and family,” she said. “Beyond my GoFundMe, I have also had numerous private donations. My sponsor, Goodwill industries of the Southern Rivers Inc., has given me a $1,000 donation. I am overwhelmed with such gratification from everyone’s efforts in helping me reach my goal and help support this mission.”

At the pageant, Yount will be interviewed twice by a panel of judges and will attend workshops and seminars. Contestants will give their platform speeches. The crowning will be Aug. 1.

Yount has not revealed what her platform will be, but she encourages people to watch a live stream of the platform speeches on YouTube using https://m.youtube.com/user/WheelchairAmerica.

Fans can also vote for their favorite Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant contestant by visiting https://mwa2016peopleschoice.com/contestants.

“If I were to win Ms. Wheelchair America 2016, my aspirations are limitless,” Yount said.


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, https://www.oanow.com/

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