Big changes are in store for Allison Merriam. The Kansas City woman was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2018 in a ceremony in Lawrence Sunday afternoon.

“Over the years I’ve seen amazing independent women and I hope to continue that trend,” said Merriam.

Merriam says she first discovered the pageant in 2013, less than a year after a car wreck limited her mobility.

“This was the first time to see independent women that were out doing normal things. Having children, getting married and it was just really empowering,” said Merriam.

Merriam says she hopes to change how people think about disabilities by empowering the people who live with them.

However, Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2017 Deb Young says it’s Allison who will change. When she was crowned last year at the age of 60, she thought she knew everything to know about herself.

Handing over the title Sunday, Young says nothing could be farther from the truth.

“It has helped me grow in more ways than I could have ever imagined,” said Young. “There’s always more confidence to be gained, more knowledge to be found.”

Merriam will head to Grand Rapids, Michigan in July to compete for Ms. Wheelchair America.