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Cape Coral graduate wins state title

Posted at 4:20 PM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 16:20:32-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. --- A Cape Coral High School graduate is crowned Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2018 at the "Be the Change..Be Empowered," gala in Tampa on March 16-18, 2018. 

The event provided an opportunity for women who utilize wheelchairs to educate and advocate for individuals with disabilities. Participants had the opportunity to attend workshops from experts of advocacy, fundraising, public speaking, domestic violence, marketing and accessible travel. 

"I will describe my experience, is that I was like a flower," said 29-year-old Shavaughn Barnes. "The weekend began, and I started to grow. As it continued on to Saturday evening and it was announced that I won, I had finally bloomed into something beautiful. 

This year, Ms. Shavaughn Barnes, was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2018. Ms. Barnes, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, will represent the state of Florida at the national Ms. Wheelchair American Pageant held in Grand Rapids, MI. 

"Lee County is where I first discovered I had a disability at age 7," said Barnes. "During my school years I became a Seahawk at Cape Coral High School and an Eagle at Florida Gulf Coast University. Both of those school's mascots are majestic birds so I can proudly say that Lee County is also the place that I learned to fly." 

Each contestant were asked questions based on their knowledge of the American with Disabilities Act, their public speaking skills and the impact of their personal platform. 

Ms. Barnes says she will use her platform to continue promoting disability awareness.