MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In less than a month, a Memphis woman will hit the stage representing Tennessee in a national pageant.
It’s a pageant with a purpose that highlights the beauty of those who are “differently-abled.”
Jasmine Gannaway is preparing to represent the Volunteer state on a national stage.
“I’m hoping to come home with that crown [for] the 2022 Miss USA title. That is my goal,” Gannaway said.
This isn’t your average beauty pageant. It’s Miss Wheelchair USA.
“It means a lot to me. Just to rep Tennessee and especially my hometown of Memphis,” Gannaway said.
Three years ago, Gannaway woke up in a hospital bed with both of her legs gone.
“I’m what they call a bilateral above the knee amputee or ‘BAKA’ for short,” Gannaway said.
She says a normal day after work changed the way she navigates the world.
“In April 2019, I was standing outside on the back of a vehicle and somebody came up behind and hit me, and my legs were amputated immediately right there on the scene,” Gannaway said.
The next nearly three months would be spent in Regional Medical Center, recovering physically but never losing the joy on the inside.
“There has gotta be a greater purpose if my life was spared and saved in that night,” Gannaway said. “You go through sadness and grief but you have to keep going.”
Gannaway uses her wheelchair to get around, cook, clean, get dressed and even work from home.
“It’s tough. It has not been easy, but I have been committed to making it work and taking it one step at a time,” she says.
She’s taking it one step at a time, just with a new way of getting there.
“A lot of times you go out [and] you get stares. You get looks. It’s definitely something that’s been different and I have had to get used to, but I’ve adjusted,” Gannaway said.
Now, she’s ready to adjust her crown on the main stage this summer.
“We are people just like everyone else, and we deserve to be loved and beautiful and celebrated,” Gannaway said.
Gannaway hopes to use her platform to push other disabled women to pursue entrepreneurship and never let anything slow them down.
“I want others to be encouraged and know that life doesn’t stop because you’re in a chair. You can still pursue your dreams and make those things come true,” Gannaway said.
The pageant will be in Ohio in July. Right now, Gannaway is asking her hometown Memphis to rally around her and donate as she represents our state.