Community, Springfield

Springfield woman off to nationwide competition

SPRINGFIELD – As Ms. Wheelchair Pacific Coast U.S.A., Springfield resident Melinda Preciado will be going to Ohio to compete in the Ms. Wheelchair U.S.A. 2024 competition this July, representing Oregon, California, and Washington.

Springfield resident Melinda Preciado in the 2023 Fourth of July Parade in Creswell. 

Preciado got her foot in the door with disability competitions after her traumatic event in January 2021, which resulted in becoming a wheelchair user and an above-the-knee amputee.

She said she liked the mission behind wheelchair pageants. It recognizes that women with disabilities can still be beautiful, glamorous, and exhibit self-confidence. It “does not discourage ability, but instead celebrates the individuality of the women who wear Ms. Wheelchair U.S.A. crowns.”

The competition is an empowering, educational experience, according to Preciado. Each titleholder is required to maintain their own platforms, while also supporting Ms. Wheelchair USA and The Dane Foundation. The Dane Foundation is a nonprofit which provides “for the unique needs of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.” It became the presenter of the Ms. Wheelchair U.S.A. competition 14 years ago when the first national pageant was held in Ohio. 

Preciado recalled instances where able-bodied people could not grasp the “inhumane” realities which physically disabled people endure daily, such as oftentimes being unable to use the restroom in public and being treated as less than – or occasionally infantilized – due to their disabilities.

“My first experience as a wheelchair user on a plane was literally hell. It was awful because you can’t use the toilet,” Preciado said. “I asked someone there at the airport before going on the plane, ‘What happens if I have to go to the bathroom?’ and they said, ‘Oh, we just hope you use the bathroom before you get on the plane.’”

Because of this, Preciado’s platform is based on accessibility advocacy. She hopes to inspire real, tangible change in the Springfield community – such as improving the City’s sidewalks – as well as across the nation through conversations with legislators and community members. She continues to give personal insight on what work there still is to be done in order to make the world accessible for all people.



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