VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach woman is taking her crown, and her wheelchair, on an adventure to inspire and raise awareness for those with disabilities. Gloria Thornton is the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Virginia USA 2022.
She is a Navy wife who lost her brother in 2021.
“When he passed away, I almost lost my purpose.”
However, Gloria saw a friend participate in Ms. Wheelchair USA and decided the pageant may help her find a renewed purpose in life. Her platform focuses on physical disabilities, chronic illness and mental health.
“My platform is, ‘It’s OK to not be OK: The struggle between chronic illness and mental health.'”
Gloria is very passionate about sharing her message.
“I want to try to bring awareness to the idea that you can have multiple forms of different illnesses and every illness is still valid. It’s not you have anxiety. It’s just anxiety. It’s you have anxiety and valid muscular weakness. You have anxiety and hypermobility.”
This queen wants everyone to understand no matter what life throws at you, it’s imperative to keep pushing.
“It’s okay to allow yourself to feel the feelings that you feel because they are valid but continue.”
Gloria is an ambulatory wheelchair user.
“I use my wheelchair probably about 90% of the time, but you may see me in your local store with my rollator walker or my forearm crutches. I have a lot of different chronic pain in my upper back and my spine and my legs. So, again, the wheelchair is really used for safety.”
Gloria says she is excited to participate in the next stage of competition: Ms. Wheelchair USA. The pageant is in Ohio in July. WAVY.com will keep you posted on how she does!