“Its not who you think you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”
That’s the platform Amy Bleile addressed that led her to winning Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin.
Amy Bleile graduated in 2010 from UW-Whitewater earning her masters in special education and social work at the University of Illinois. At UW-Whitewater she was also on the wheelchair basketball team and was the only female player. She is now a special education substitute teacher for the Whitewater and Palmyra school districts, focusing mainly on elementary school students.
Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin focuses mainly on advocacy for women with disabilities. The program is facilitated to educate people about the issues they have with having a disability.
It also is used to get the people in the community to work together to make changes so they can have legislation that will affect them positively and break the stereotypes affecting people with disabilities.
The pageant was held on March 31 in Madison, focusing on the contestants speaking abilities and if they could be a good advocate for the cause. It consisted of hour-long interviews with the judges, platform speeches, and lastly, questions randomly asked by the judges.
Most importantly, the four contestants had to pick a topic important and personal to them.
Bleile focused her topic on education. She wanted to get the message across that “you don’t have to do things the same way that other people do them, do them to the best of your ability.”
That is what helped Bleile become the next Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin.
“I was shocked, happy and really excited because it will be a great opportunity for me to educate other people and to work and collaborate with other people in my community and surrounding communities of issues that do not only affect myself, but others with disabilities,” Bleile said.
Bleile now spends her time giving speeches to college classrooms, UW-Whitewater, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. She dedicates her time to address what it is like for her to have a disability, her life and the things that affect her on a daily basis.
Bleile said it is a way for people to start recognizing her as a person and not just a person in a wheelchair.
Being Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin brought great benefits for Bleile’s cause. She now has a way to get out there and get her message across to students who also have disabilities.
“I want to show people with disabilities that you can go to college, you can get a college education, you can do anything you put your mind to, you just might have to do it a little bit differently,” Bleile said.
Desiree Metzger, a friend of Bleile’s, said Amy has always been the person to put others before herself. The two met at the university through work and have been inseperable ever since.
“She is very deserving of this award. She has always been focused on helping others,” Metzger said.
With winning Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, Bleile will move onto the week long national competition in Rhode Island in August. Instead of the four contestants she competed against in March, she will go against the other 49 state winners. To do this, she will be fundraising around the community to help her with the cost of the entry fee.
Besides obtaining the role of Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin, Bleile said she enjoys many other hobbies as well.
In her free time she likes helping tutor college students and children, listening to music, swimming and is still keeping up with playing wheelchair basketball. She is also in love with Tyler Perry movies and plays. Bleile is a respite foster care provider for Anue Family Treatment Homes.
Bleile encourages anyone who would like her to come and speak for their organization to contact her.