“Pursuit of Access” Drives Student from New York to Iowa
By Justine Carucci
Andrea Dalzell, a CSI student, will represent New York in Iowa this summer at the Miss Wheelchair America Pageant.
Working daily to promote her platform, “Pursuit of Access,” for the event, Dalzell works daily, including writing letters and petitions to assemble men and women for her cause.
With a unique, yet much needed cause in her corner, she is confident as she raises the funds for the expenses of the upcoming pageant.
And as a member of CSI’s Emerging Leaders program, she has a band of followers that also believe in her ability to bring the Miss Wheelchair America title to New York.
“Andrea is a very smart, determined, and resourceful woman who is capable of anything she puts her head and heart into,” says Robert King Kee, ELP administrator.
“There is a huge need to create adequate housing for people with disabilities,” Kee continued.
“We need more leaders like Andrea fighting the fight.”
Having suffered from transverse myelitis, an inflammatory disease that dam ages the spinal cord, as a middle schooler, Andrea knows the cost of upgrades to remodel homes to provide access for the disabled.
Many teenagers are entering nursing homes because their families cannot afford to make their homes wheelchair accessible.
Health insurance companies are paying up to $10,000 a month per person in a nursing home that isn’t fulfilling their needs.
Andrea’s plan is to have houses in place that will not only have the access people need, but full-time aids and $1,400 rent.
Saving ranges from $5,000 to $7,000 a month, and having roommates in the same age range and lifestyle is an added bonus.
In September 2014, Dalzell was crowned Miss Wheelchair New York.
For her platform, realizing that certain things were worth speaking up for, she revamped the line “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Access.”
Andrea was hesitant to submit the application to Miss Wheelchair New York, but was moved by a desire to be an inspiration.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to be Miss Wheelchair New York,” she said.
“I just knew I wanted to speak up for everyone else. There’s no female role model with a disability for people to aspire to, so I want to be her.”
Andrea has managed to raise some funds for her pageant fees by selling wristbands that read “I support Miss Wheelchair New York” and has set up a “Go Fund Me” account.
“I don’t want people to praise me for getting out of bed in the morning, we all get out of bed,” Dalzell expressed.
“Get out of bed and say something, get out of bed and do something.”