What Ms. Wheelchair Michigan is hoping to accomplish over and above competing for the national title

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Posted at 5:54 AM, Jun 27, 2024

TAYLOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — Ms. Wheelchair Michigan is on a mission. She's preparing for the National Competition later this summer, and hopes to bring the crown back to our state.

But her real goal is to get lawmakers and others to get serious about helping. I had the chance to sit down with this advocate about her mission beyond the crown. But she's quick to clarify, this is anything but a 'beauty pageant.'

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Shantá Favors is a 41-year-old wife and mother from Taylor and the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Michigan.

Since winning the crown in November, she's not slowed down — traveling across the state and beyond. She's been meeting with various lawmakers, leaders, and people of all abilities in an effort to make a difference.

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”I decided to turn my adversities into advocacy," Shantá told me.

Shantá didn't always have a wheelchair.

"I was at work, and I tripped and fell walking up stairs, and I broke my neck — my C2 through my C7 — and I became an incomplete quadriplegic," Shantá said.

She went from working as a Director of Care at a senior living community in Southfield, overseeing about 80 residents and 23 staff members, to being a patient herself. That gives her, what she calls, a 360-degree perspective.

Having that firsthand account and the lived experience, we had to do something about it," Shantá said. "I believe in the well-being of our caretakers because the caretakers and the care recipients, we coexist.”

You saw the need for change even before your accident?" I asked Shantá.

"Absolutely," she responded.

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Deonna Ricks is a Certified Nursing Assistant. She used to work for Shantá Favors — who was not only her boss, but also her aunt. Deonna is proud that Shantá is fighting for health care workers who work closely with patients.

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“I started doing caregiving back in 2016," Deonna said. “We take care of them on a daily basis. However, we’re underlooked at and underpaid.”

Shantá's motto is 'Care with a Purpose.'

”The reality is, Alicia, everybody, if we keep living, is going to join the club of disability someway, somehow," Shantá said. "And it's just I joined it sooner.”

"This is not about getting a national crown for you," I said.

"No, no," Shantá responded. "It is about, changing lives for our people, for our caretakers, and about those living with the disability.”

Shantá Favors wants a personal care assistance fund established for disabled Americans to help them with personal care assistance, regardless of insurance status.

She also wants better wages and benefits for caregivers.

If you'd like to support Shantá Favors' Mission, she's set up a GoFundMe page to cover travel costs and other expenses. You can also find out more about Ms. Wheelchair America here.