Locals Compete Ms. Wheelchair Virginia

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli
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March 16, 2006

People around the world live with disabilities, and several local women are campaigning on their behalf, two from Crozet and one from Charlottesville. All are vying for the opportunity to educate people on their disabilities and serve as role models.

Barbie Sandridge is one of the Crozet women who walked with braces until she was 17, but when she moved on her own she started using her wheelchair more

"If I realize that people are looking at me I usually say something...or if they ask questions I try to answer them so that they can understand that, you know, it's not the end of the world. So what I'm in a wheelchair," said Sandridge.

Barbie is a wife and mother to three. She's worked full-time most of her life and now helps her husband with his business finances.

"As long as you're independent and as long as you have the drive, that you can do anything. I usually tell people that I can do everything except walk," said Sandridge.

This is her first pageant, but family members are confident that she'll be successful.

"She's independent, competitive, always doing the right thing. I'm sure this pageant isn't something she's thinking about for herself, it's for other people," said sister Shelby Rossen.

As a teenager, Barbie was a swimmer in the wheelchair Olympics and is taking that competitive attitude to Richmond.

"She has been a role model for many many years for individuals with disabilities and without disabilities. She's a wonderful person," said Mildred Spicer, who works with the pageant.

The other Crozet woman is India Sims,. who has been in a wheelchair since she was five years old, but she didn't let it stop her from doing anything.

"If a person was riding a bike along the street I would get a bike and I would ride it like a skate board and I would hook my brace onto the wheel of the bike. I mean I tried to fit in as much as I could," said Sims.

India is just 21-years-old, but is an independent mother who wants to be Ms. Wheelchair Virginia so that she can inspire young people to work through their disabilities.

"They feel like there's not help whatsoever and there's no life just because you're in a wheelchair. I just want to show them that I've been through that and look at me now. I have a child, I play wheelchair basketball, I went to school to do hair and there's a lot out there for people with disabilities," said Sims.

India is a full-time mom, which requires more than just child care, but just like motherhood she's putting 110 percent into this pageant.

"She's a person that's strong willed. When somebody says she can't do a thing she will prove them that they are wrong and she will put all she's got into it to prove them wrong," said mother Della Barbour.

The pageant is open to the public on March 17 from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn South, Koger Center, 10800 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, Virginia.

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