I've entered into the 2014 National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero Contest!

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Vote 4 V graphic

I have entered into NMEDA’s 2014 National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero contest!  This is the third year that NMEDA has hosted this event.  I discovered the contest on Tumblr a few weeks ago from a follower who also entered into the contest.

The National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero contest allows wheelchair users to discuss how acquiring a wheelchair accessible vehicle would improve their quality of life and well-being.  The competition will take place between now and May 9th.  Contestants like myself are seeking the support of family, friends, organizations, and allies by urging them to vote every day until May 9th.  Voting is easy – you can either create a log-in account on the website, or you can use your Facebook page to log-in, and vote.  You may only vote once per day, and you can share the contestant’s profile page with anyone on social media.
I have been pushing my entry into the contest to all I know, especially my fellow disability advocates, social workers, sorority sisters (Zeta Phi Beta), fraternity brothers (Phi Beta Sigma), and my community connections.  I have only had my profile up for a week and a half, and I have already received close to 300 votes!
So, vote for me every day so that I can win this van!  Use the following hashtags on Twitter to let me know that I have your support in the Mobility Awareness Month contest, and that you are voting:  #Vote4Vilissa  #RockTheVote4Vilissa  #RockTheVote4V  #SocialWorkers4Vilissa  #BlueFam4Vilissa.  You can connect with me on Twitter via the Ramp Your Voice! page (@RampYourVoice), or my personal Twitter page (@VilissaThompson).
Click the link to read my profile, and to vote!

I also created a public event page on Facebook about my entry:

Below is my essay about how winning a wheelchair van would impact my life:

My name is Vilissa Thompson. I am 28 years old, and I am a proud “rock and rolling” Southern Belle from Winnsboro, SC. I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), better known as brittle bones disease. OI may affect my mobility and hearing, but it has not hindered my ambition to leave my unique tire track on the world.
Living in a small Southern town has its challenges, and the biggest barrier I face is transportation. There are very limited transportation options for wheelchair users like myself to utilize that would allow me to take advantage of everything my community has to offer. This obstacle affects every aspect of my life, from being able to spend quality time with my friends and family, to connecting with fellow disability advocates in my area to establish an empowering network of self-advocates who are fighting for equality and justice for all abilities in South Carolina.
Having my own mode of transportation will also open incredible doors in the career I have created for myself as a Disability Rights Consultant. The purpose of my work is to educate, inform, and empower students, veterans, and women with disabilities in South Carolina. I am passionate about this work because I know first-hand how frustrating it is to not have the resources you need to access educational, occupational, and healthcare programs and services you have the right to utilize. In order for me to lead the charge in demanding inclusion, I must first demand it for myself. Entering into this contest is my way of ramping my voice so that I can become a prominent and outspoken advocate for those with disabilities who are fighting tirelessly to achieve their life purposes, despite the barriers.
Obtaining a wheelchair accessible van will be a freeing experience. I would be able to come and go as I please; travel and explore the state, country, and world I live in; and expand my social network. Though I am grateful to have a support system that transports me to important events and appointments, I am praying for the day when I can get into my own van, and drive whenever and to wherever I desire. Having that kind of independence is what I long for as someone who is a “do-it-yourselfer.”
Vote for me so that my independence can go beyond the four wheels on my wheelchair!

(I want to thank my fellow social worker & friend, Iggy from Social Work Tech, for adding the colorful banner to my photograph!)

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