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Morris News Bee
July 29, 1999

 Parkot Named State’s Ms. Wheelchair

MORRISTOWN -- Dawn Teresa Parkot of Morristown, a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, has been named Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 1999 at the annual pageant held at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange. Parkot will now represent the state at the Ms. Wheelchair America competition to be held in Ohio in August.

“I’m extremely excited and gratified being crowned Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey,” Parkot said, “It serves to prove that someone who has a severe speech disability can still be a spokesperson and an activist for the disabled community.” Parkot, diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 13 months, due to her birth. She is also legally blind and uses a special communication device to speak.

The Ms. Wheelchair program seeks to find the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman, a woman who break down barriers and increase awareness for millions of individuals and disabilities.

 

Candidates are judged on their academic, vocational and personal accomplishments, their communication skills and their ability to serve as an advocate for persons with disabilities.

Parkot, who graduated third in her class of over 350 students at Morristown High School, was a nationally ranked equestrienne on the New Jersey state team and an alternate for the Para-Olympic team that competed in Spain in 1991. A Dean’s List student at the University of Notre Dame, Parkot graduated cum laude with a degree in mathematics and is now pursuing her master’s degree in computer science and engineering. She was the first student with multiple disabilities at the university. While there, her fellow students founded an award in her name to be given to future students who succeed in life despite unthinkable odds.

Volunteers from various community organizations, business groups and other individuals plan and staff this event. All funding for the Ms. Wheelchair pageant comes from private contributions corporate sponsorships and various fund-raising efforts. Candidates are responsible for their personal and travel expenses. For more information about the program or to make a donation, contact: Jeanine Stoddart, former Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey and program chairwoman at 299-0833.