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'Overwhelmed with emotion': Canada's first Miss Wheelchair heads to World competition

She will be competing against 23 other women in Poland

Vahen King, 44, is the first Miss Wheelchair Canada.

Vahen King/ submitted / Metro Web Upload

Vahen King, 44, is the first Miss Wheelchair Canada.

When a friend suggested Vahen King enter a beauty pageant, she wasn't sure it was a good idea.

After all, she's over 40 and was a total newbie to the runway. Also, she uses a wheelchair.

“Honestly I wasn’t sure if it was for me," she said. But when the first Miss Wheelchair Canada competition was announced, she decided that, win or lose, she might be able to upend some of the stereotypes about what a person using a wheelchair can do.

King, 44, went to Vancouver last week and won, becoming the first person to take home the title. “I was overwhelmed with emotion,” she told Metro.

Now, she's getting ready to head to Warsaw, Poland next month to represent Canada in Miss Wheelchair World.

“I know that not everyone likes to be in pageant but it’s important to me because you have an opportunity for me to change the stigma, change the perspective of a person with a disability," she told Metro.

"I had an opportunity to share a little bit of who I am, and that was important to me so that’s kind of how I decided to pursue this."

King was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in 1999 right after her engagement to her now husband.

“As a person with disability I didn’t really do that well, I pushed people away and headed down a wrong path and ended up almost destroying my marriage and my faith in god,” she said.

Eventually, she made a decision to stop feeling insecure and take control of her life, she said. Now she is an author, motivational speaker, life coach and a licensed minister.

She competed against three other women, one from Alberta and two from British Columbia.

“There were a lot of provinces not represented,” she said, adding that originally there were seven contestants but some of them dropped out before the actual pageant.  “Hopefully next year there will be more.”

King will be travelling to Poland on Sept. 27th to compete in Miss Wheelchair World against 23 other contestants from 15 countries.

She said she excited for an opportunity she believes she was born to do.

“It’s not just a sash or pageant type of thing, I get to travel and tell people what I'm about,” she said.  “I get to inspire other people who are going through their tragic situation.”

Canadians can vote for her to win on the Miss Wheelchair World website.

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