June 2023 in Review

“I started June by enjoying a wonderful yet very hot afternoon at the Dayton Pride Festival, assisting The Access Center  (ACIL) staff in their outreach efforts aimed at bridging the gap between the local disability and LGBTQIA+ communities.

ACIL was kind enough to also allow me to have my books at the booth. It was wonderful to meet so many wonderful people and the opportunity to speak to them about the importance of inclusion, ACIL, my Ms. Wheelchair Ohio platform, and inclusive literature.

My preparation for the 2024 Ms. Wheelchair America was in full swing by early June. My husband and I visited the Dayton, Ohio, location of Mobility Works to secure our van rental. I will be using our van to get to the competition so my husband will need a second van to come to the public portion of the competition. Mobility Works was kind enough to give an in-kind sponsorship in the form of a discount on our van rental. I could not be more grateful for the generosity the company showed.

I spoke to young adults at Youth Leadership Forum in Dayton, North Canton, and Cleveland throughout the month. At each YLF, I shared parts of my story and spoke about the importance of self-advocacy. The students at each forum responded well and asked me thought-provoking questions about my life experiences, as well as transitioning from high school and beyond. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to share my life experiences and be a mentor to young people.

The Greene County Board of Commissioners recognized me and my platform with a resolution in early June. I am truly honored by the commissioners’ recognition and support of the work I am doing for the disability community in Greene County and beyond. During the meeting, the commissioners spoke about what a wonderful advocate and example I am for the disability community. They also expressed that they are confident that I will do well in the 2024 Ms. Wheelchair America competition. I am truly humbled by their support and grateful to have them behind me.

I attended the legislative breakfast hosted by the Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce. I sat with the President of the Greene County Board of Commissioners, Rick Perales. He is one of the kindest people I have met in a while. He not only offered me a place to sit, but he also found a straw when I needed it and gave me a shout-out during his speech. I greatly appreciate him helping me network at such a wonderful event. Congressman Mike Turner, Representative Brian Lampton, and Senator Bob Hackett were among the other legislators present.

As an advocate for those with mental illness, as well as those with disabilities, I greatly appreciated hearing Congressman Turner speak about how the state of Ohio plans to address the rising Mental Health crisis in the wake of the opioid crisis. I’m so relieved to know that the issue is being tackled. As advocacy always does, it will take time, but I know that we will see an improvement thanks to Congressman Turner’s passion and persistence regarding mental health.

I also had a chance to speak with Senator Bob Hackett about the work that he has done to protect the rights of people with disabilities who pursue parenthood. He supports people with disabilities whether we choose to be parents naturally, via adoption, or through the foster care system. He has even made an effort to protect those with disabilities who are single parents. I for one am very grateful that our community has such a strong advocate in Senator Hackett.

I had the privilege of saying the opening prayer and reciting the pledge of allegiance at a fundraiser golf outing held by Commissioner Perales after the legislative breakfast. He sang my praises while everyone else sang his. He is a wonderful advocate for people with disabilities. I felt truly welcomed at the event. I feel honored and blessed to have been a part of it. Former Ohio State University football coach, Jim Tressel told me that my opening prayer was lovely.

The 5th annual Pollinator Expo hosted by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was fun. As a lover of butterflies, I enjoyed learning about the plants required to keep them alive from the conservationist groups that were present. I had the chance to make a beeswax candle with the Ohio State Beekeepers Association. I heard all about how the Beavercreek Wetlands will be adding an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, wheelchair-accessible path. I also had the pleasure of meeting the Mayor of Yellow Springs, Pam Conine. Overall, I really enjoyed the event.

I auditioned with TEDxDayton at The Black Box Improv Theater a couple of weeks ago in hopes of becoming a part of TEDxDayton’s signature event this October. I have not heard back from the selection committee yet, but I believe my audition went well and am truly hoping for the best. I will give an update in my next blog.

Last weekend, I had the awesome experience of participating in the second annual Challenging Perception Adaptive Trail Race held at Glen Helen Nature Preserve by the Greene County Board of Developmental Disabilities and All Hands In Network. The race was supported by amazingly strong and kind volunteers from Luke5Adventures. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d enjoy hiking. I have never really been a fan of the outdoors since wheelchairs and the outdoors generally do not mix well. Furthermore, I am a city girl despite having married a country boy. Regardless, I really enjoyed experiencing the outdoors in a way I never have before today, thanks to the kindness of the volunteers. It was awesome to be able to be close enough to the plants to touch them. I enjoyed feeling the various textures in the woods and seeing various trees from different angles. There was one tree that the volunteers and I dubbed the Ichabod Crane tree and another that we called the Swiss Cheese tree. I even got to experience going over a creek at one point. The whole experience was amazing, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it as the current Ms. Wheelchair Ohio.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking virtually at a storytelling workshop held by the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Workshop attendees are preparing to share their stories publicly a couple of weeks from now. I was able to share some of the experiences I have had writing and publishing books with them as well as give some tips on how to share your story in public. Afterward, I got the chance to hear some of their stories which were awesome. As an author with a disability, I believe that people with disabilities sharing our stories is a great way to show disability pride, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of a workshop that is helping people do just that.

Collaborating with Ms. Wheelchair Arkansas to organize the first Talk-O (About Yourself) Tuesday was very enjoyable. Ms. Wheelchair Arkansas, six other ladies, and I attended the Zoom call. I loved getting to know the other ladies and hearing about their platforms. I am hopeful that more of the 19 ladies competing in this year’s competition will attend future Zoom calls.  I am hosting the next one on July 11th. Our calls and genuine sisterhood bonding are really helping me look forward to the competition in August.

A couple of days after the storytelling workshop, I had the opportunity to join a meeting of a group called Voices Matter, hosted jointly by the Greene County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The group focuses on the importance of self-advocates sharing their stories and their voices. I shared parts of my story and an explanation of my Ms. Wheelchair Ohio platform. Everyone seemed genuinely interested and responded enthusiastically to my advocacy efforts. The experience was enjoyable and gratifying.

I finished June by meeting with Sandra Brasington and Kathleen Young, two lovely representatives from Governor DeWine’s office.  I had the opportunity to share my story and platform with them, but more importantly, we talked about ways we could best collaborate. I am going to help the Governor promote Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library as well as the Governor’s efforts to promote the science of reading. In return, Sandra and Kathleen will help me network so that I can share my platform and the importance of inclusive literature even more throughout Ohio. Kathleen and Sandra are both very sweet ladies. I am grateful to have the opportunity to have met them and to be able to collaborate with them as Ms. Wheelchair Ohio.

Follow and “like” @Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2023 Allison Boot on Facebook or mwoh2023_AllisonBoot on Insta for more updates.”