NEMED eyes full turnout at wheelchair pageant

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - A regional HME association aims to have delegates from each New England state competing in this year's Miss Wheelchair America pageant.
With delegates from Massachusetts and Rhode Island already competing in the pageant, the New England Medical Equipment Dealers (NEMED) has set its sights on Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut.
"Basically, we're trying to bring to light how much people with disabilities add to the communities they come from," said Bruce Wishart, a NEMED member and general manager at Alpha One Medical in South Portland, Maine.
In the past few months, NEMED has been filling out the paperwork that will pave the way for delegates from the four states to compete for the first time. Its members are also recruiting delegates to represent the states.
Active involvement in the pageant is a powerful way to call attention to the HME industry, said Karyn Estrella, executive director of NEMED.
"Miss Massachusetts came with us to AAHomecare's legislative conference last year," she said. "I've been attending this conference for five years and having her in the room with us was completely different. She helped us get our message out there."
In addition to meeting with political leaders, the responsibilities of delegates include developing a platform to raise awareness of women in wheelchairs and participating in fundraising activities.
The 2006 Miss Wheelchair America pageant takes place in August in Little Rock, Ark.