POSTED: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 4:06pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 4:14pm
LAFAYETTE, LA (NBC33) — Louisiana has a new Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana. Her name's Leah Hoffpauir, and she wants to make a change.
Leah entered just a week before the pageant. She said she's not really the pageant type, but when she realized winning this pageant could help bring awareness, she felt like she had to.
"At first I was like, 'oh God, what did I just get myself into?,'" Leah questioned.
That's until Leah was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana, but the crown is just part of it.
"I just read that it was for advocacy which that was the part I wanted to do. So I guess being in the pageant came along with it," Leah admitted.
Leah is a college student. She loves art, and even more than that, she loves helping people.
"It really is an awesome opportunity," Leah said.
Leah wants to use her new title to inspire people through her journey. A journey that started seven years ago when a diving accident changed her life.
"I had emergency surgeries, and my spinal cord was severed. So I was paralyzed ever since," Leah said. "At first, I didn't think about would be able to do anything, especially being a quadriplegic. I didn't have much use of my arms. So I thought driving was out of the question. I thought going back to school was out of the question."
Now she's doing both.
"You just have to adjust to life just like anyone else. You don't have to have a disability to have struggles. Everyone has it just ours are a little different," Leah said.
It's why Leah hopes her story inspires people who face the same struggles she does.
"I've always been a pretty open person, and to me, if you have the nerve to ask, I should have to nerve to answer," Leah said. "I'm not embarrassed of what happened. It's an accident, so I think other people should know that way they're more aware."
Leah will head to california in august to represent our state in the Ms. Wheelchair America. We know she'll do well and wish her the best of luck.