CHICAGO - Ms. Wheelchair Illinois, from Naperville, is heading to the Ms. Wheelchair America competition, which focuses on advocacy and empowerment of individuals with disabilities.
Shannon Webster is Ms. Wheelchair Illinois 2017, but come next week, she will be taking her platform to a national stage.
"People don't normally recognize disability as something of value because it's seen as something negative," said Webster. "But that's why I wanted to make it my platform...it's so important to empower people and to not only motivate them but what are your going to do with that motivation, how are you going to become a contributing member of society."
Webster is one of 25 women from across the country headed to Erie, Pennsylvania for the competition, but she said this isn't your typical beauty pageant.
"Obviously when you're rolling in a wheelchair it's not something that you would usually think of as beautiful," Webster said. "So I think we're redefining the definition of what can be beautiful, but also empowering them to not only represent their beauty and be out in the community but to speak out for others and really say that you can be your own advocate."
Webster has already been raising awareness, sharing her message across the Chicago area and with expos at her former high school, Naperville Central.
"My goal is to create a culture of self-advocacy and empowerment," she said.
Her main focus remains the community.
"Being able to give back is a huge part of why I'm involved, because it's not about me getting this beautiful crown, but what can I do with this bigger platform," Webster said.
Webster is not only competing for the Ms. Wheelchair America title, she is also in the running for a People's Choice Award, which will be decided by an online vote.
To cast your vote, click here.