Photo Provided / Melinda Preciado of Springfield, who lost her right leg last year, is promoting her platform, “Making America adaptable for all” during several events later this year.
SPRINGFIELD – Your new Ms. Wheelchair Oregon has been crowned – and she’s a local. Melinda Preciado of Springfield will represent the state at the national competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, later this year.
She lost her right leg last year and has been advocating for her platform, “Making America adaptable for all,” ever since.
“And that really means all,” said Preciado. “Adapting America for all is about changing the stigma people with disabilities face. There is no normal, we all have something, and struggle with something. We have a responsibility to make people feel heard and seen.”
For 50 years, the Ms. Wheelchair America organization has been operated by dedicated volunteers, state coordinators and titleholders. To date there have been over 1000 state titleholders to share the mission that, “all people with disabilities have the opportunity to lead productive and meaningful lives.” Ms. Wheelchair America has helped these women find their voice and facilitate positive change throughout America. Unlike a traditional beauty pageant, Ms. Wheelchair America is not a contest to select the most attractive women - it’s instead a competition based on advocacy, leadership and achievements.
“Entering these pageants is a way to be heard and make a difference,” said Preciado. “Working in the health field, you notice where things aren’t adaptable. It’s dangerous. That made me want to change things even more, and speaking for others who can speak for themselves is a huge part of why I’m doing this.”
The former ER Tech/CNA2 also plans on attending the Amputee Coalition National Conference in Palm Desert, Calif., this summer to promote her campaign.
Preciado is not new to the pageant world. In the 90’s, she competed in pageants all across Oregon – returning later in life to advocate for herself, and her young son with Autism. “Life got in the way,” Preciado said. “But I was sort of always looking to come back, and when I heard about the Ms. Wheelchair pageant, I was really stunned. I didn’t even think to look if something like this existed - and it seemed perfect for me.”
She serves on the Power On with Limb Loss board in Springfield, which lobbies for issues related to accessibility, hosts monthly support groups and outdoor challenges.
“We go rock climbing, there is adaptive skiing, adaptive kayaking, karate, yoga, and basketball,” Preciado said. “Working with Power On really opened my eyes to what’s possible.”
One day, Preciado hopes to open her own fully adaptable gym, to “create a space where everyone in my community can know, and see for themselves, that they can do anything.”