‘Life has a purpose’

Lindsey Becker, a 2004 graduate of Coffee County High School, has been named Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee for 2018. She is the daughter of Valerie and Mike Maples of Tullahoma. –Staff Photo by Cameron Adams

As Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee, Lindsey Becker will work for change 

 

STAFF WRITER

Elena Cawley

 

Lindsey Becker, 32, a Manchester native, has been named Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018, and will compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America next year.

Born with spina bifida, Becker said she has never let difficulties prevent her from achieving her dreams. She embraced the hurdles and took them on as a challenge, which fueled her passion to succeed in any endeavor and enjoy life to the fullest.

“Everything is meant to be,” Becker said, and instead of giving in to desperation, she said she focuses her energy on finding a way to a positive outcome.

Now, Becker said she is thankful for the platform the contest has provided, and wants to bring awareness to Tennesseans about the importance of resources within the disabled community.

Spina bifida causes muscle weakness, and being a thyroid cancer survivor as well, Becker said she understands the importance of having the necessary resources to tackle issues.

Proper resources, Becker said, can take a person from desperation to understanding that other people are dealing with many of the same issues, and that there are paths to achievement and happiness in any situation.

A 2004 graduate of Coffee County High School, Becker now lives in Franklin with her husband, Wes Becker, a retired disabled Marine Corps veteran from Mt. Juliet.

Becker is the daughter of Mike and Valerie Maples, of Tullahoma. She is the granddaughter of Jean Pierce, of Manchester, and the late Stan Pierce.

 

The path to winning

As a child, Becker was involved in ABLE (Adapt, Believe, Love, Enjoy) Youth, a Nashville-based organization that works to train children who use wheelchairs not be defined by their disabilities.

ABLE Youth leads children ages 3-12 and young adults 13-22 to become independent, graduate from high school and continue their education in college or enter the workforce.

ABLE Youth uses sports as a motivating catalyst for children to reach goals of independence.

“I was really involved in the wheelchair sports program,” she said. “The program exposed me to everything from waterskiing to the wheelchair cheerleading squad. The program offers a lot of sports and teaches you independence. That’s how I found out about the pageant.”

Lindsey Becker, a 2004 graduate of Coffee County High School, has been named Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee for 2018. She is the daughter of Valerie and Mike Maples, of Tullahoma.

–Staff Photo by Cameron Adams

Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2018 is not Becker’s first pageant win. She was crowned Junior Miss Wheelchair Tennessee in 2001.

“Then, I told myself I was going to come back and compete for Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee,” she said.

The junior contest is for girls ages 13 to 20, and Ms. Wheelchair contest is for women ages 21 and up.

“I competed last year and ended up getting first runner-up and Ms. Congeniality,” she said. “Everybody encouraged me to come back.”

So, she competed again this year and won.

The contest was held Sept. 30 at the Doubletree Hotel in Chattanooga. The event included various competitions, including public speaking and Zumba. Contestants had to answer about 30 questions and prepare and present a speech.

“My speech was about the importance of resources for whatever you’re going through,” she said. “Because I am a cancer survivor, as well, the resources are really important to me.

“As a kid, being able to be with other people in wheelchairs was really valuable to me,” she said. “I really want to get that message across. I also want to encourage people to find their own way to shine. That was my overall message.”

 

Doors open

Becker plans to use the platform she acquired by winning the title to send that message to a wide audience, including government representatives. She wants to be the link between the community and the resources, with the hope of helping people who may find themselves in challenging situations.

“I have already gotten to meet many interesting people,” she said. “I am in the process of setting up a meeting with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, and I am speaking at MTSU in a couple of weeks in a classroom on a disability-related issues. I will also speak at an elementary school in Chattanooga, and I am meeting with representatives of the Tennessee Valley Authority.”

Becker’s first public appearance after winning Ms. Wheelchair 2018 was at the Old Timers Day Parade in Manchester on Oct. 8.

 

Embracing life

After Becker graduated from Coffee County High School, she went to MTSU to study early childhood education.

“At MTSU, I ended up meeting Wes, my husband,” she said.

The couple met in 2007 and married in 2009.

“We moved to Franklin last year,” Becker said. “Wes, who is 34, is a disabled veteran and a wheelchair user, as well.”

In addition to finding joy and fulfilment in having a great family, Becker has turned her passion for music and writing into her profession.

“I am a freelance entertainment journalist,” Becker said.

Becker has a blog, meanttobelindseyb.com, in which she shares personal experiences as a wheelchair user, a cancer survivor, a woman and a human being. Everybody can relate to her stories, she said, because everybody has been in testing situations.

“I am a cancer survivor, and that’s how I started my personal blog,” she said. “The disabled community seemed to be getting a lot out of what I was writing about and from sharing my experiences as a wheelchair user, as well. I write about whatever is on my heart at that time, hoping to help other people. I write about everything.”

Becker also has a music promotion company, shineonmusiccity.com.

“I do spotlights for local artists,” she said. “I interview local musicians and write about their projects.”

 

Encouraging others

“You can go through rough times in your life, and it’s OK to struggle,” Becker said.

What matters is the way you handle the rough times.

“There are people who can learn something from your story,” she said. “That’s life; everything is meant to be, and it has a purpose.”

That’s the way she looks at her experience as a cancer survivor.

“I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013, and I had two surgeries and radiation the first year,” Becker said. “I was 27. Now, I am in partial remission, which is really good, as good as it gets, until we hit the five-year mark. If nothing really changes in five years, they consider you cancer free.”

Battling cancer inspired her to participate in the pageant, too.

“It gave me a different way to see the importance of resources,” she said. “There were resources out there that could help you get through anything.”

 

Bucket list

Becker encourages people to enjoy life to the fullest. One of the things that helped her focus on positive experiences was creating a bucket list.

“I friend of mine had come across the idea to do a short-term bucket list – 101 things to do in 1,001 days,” Becker said. “I thought that was a neat idea and it would be a good way to get my mind off the health stuff. I made my own list.”

On the top of the list was meeting country music singer Keith Urban, which turned out to be one of the best and life-changing experiences for Becker, because it helped her realize she wanted to dedicate her career to music.

Going to New York and Colorado, donating to charities and making new recipes were also on her list.

“I didn’t finish everything in the 1,001 days, but inspired me to make a lifetime list at some point,” she said. “I learned through that, too, that not everything happens at the time you’d like it to happen, and that’s OK, too.”

Elena Cawley may be reached by email at tngenrep@lcs.net.

 

 

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