In 1972 a Columbus, Ohio physician, Dr. Philip K Wood, who devoted his career to the treatment and rehabilitation of functionally impaired individuals was aware of the talent, capabilities, determination and courage of the disabled. This physician established Ms. Wheelchair America as a forum for the promotion of the achievements as well as the needs of mobility impaired persons. The non-profit program is staffed and coordinated by volunteers throughout the country dedicated to increasing public awareness so that all its citizens will be able to lead productive and meaningful lives.
Unlike the Miss America Pageant, the Ms. Wheelchair America Program is in no way a beauty contest. It is instead a competition to select the most accomplished and articulate spokesperson for the millions of disabled Americans. 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.
As Ms. Wheelchair America, her duties are numerous. Each year she has had the opportunity to travel, visiting advocacy groups, making public appearances and conducting radio, print and TV interviews in the fulfillment of her responsibilities. These include promoting awareness of the need to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers, informing the able-bodied public of the achievements of disabled people across the nation and promoting Ms. Wheelchair America by assisting in the establishment of programs in all the states.