Ms. Wheelchair America, Jennifer Adams, will leave her Tacoma home Sept. 19 to take her anti-bullying, arts-for-all message on the road.
But before she does, she hopes to raise part of the $30,000 she expects the cross-country tour will cost through the next year. She’s starting out with less than half of that, $14,000 from the national pageant at which the 33-year-old was crowned July 20 in Houston.
Her goal is to start with $5,000 more from a fundraiser Sunday at Maxwell’s Lounge in Tacoma that will feature dinner, a silent auction, and a singing and dance performance by Adams. Proceeds will go toward her travel, hotel stays and food budget, she said.
The first three months of her national appearances are pretty well set. First Boston, then Nashville. Kentucky, Utah, Yakima and Boise. Huntsville, Ala., followed by San Jose, Calif.
“I have never traveled this extensively, ever,” Adams said.
Since being crowned, she’s also spoken locally against bullying and in favor of making arts programs available to students of all abilities. They’re issues Adams has grown up facing; she was born with partial limbs, and has used a wheelchair all her life.
As the newly crowned queen, she’s becoming a published author of a children’s book with an anti-bullying message, “Dreams Come True,” that should be available on Amazon by the end of the month.
Another work in progress is an integrated dance curriculum for disabled or able-bodied performers, which she hopes to take to schools of all levels.
She’s most worried about burnout, but has a plan for that, too.
“Each place I go, I make sure I give myself one day to have to myself, to sleep in, have a massage, whatever it is to relax,” she said. “To make sure I take care of myself.”
It can be more physically demanding and more expensive to travel with a disability, she said. In some places, she’ll pay $150 daily to rent a wheelchair-assessable van.
Adams says she’ll travel by herself, but that she’ll have a host of sorts at each pit stop, often a former Ms. Wheelchair, to make sure she’s doing well and has everything she needs.
“There are quite a lot of pressures that come with this travel, but it’s such an amazing dream come true, that any of the stress is so worth it,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for these kinds of doors to open for years. I’m excited for all the adventures this year.”
IF YOU GO
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Maxwell’s Lounge, 454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
Tickets: $35 online, $20 at the door for the first 50 attendees, mswheelchairamerica.brownpapertickets.com/
To donate: mswheelchairamerica.org/