Brandon and Lorraine @ Signs of Life

Martin Luther King Day is still a few months away, but if you will indulge me for a minute I would like to tell you about a dream I have.

I want to perform my favorite dance routine on the Ellen Degeneres show.
In late in November of 2006, I got a letter in the mail inviting me to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Kansas. At first, I scoffed. I consider myself to be many things, but beauty queen doesn’t happen to be one of them. However, as I read the application more closely, I realized that the Ms. Wheelchair America program is not a beauty contest. Instead, the title holder is chosen based on self-perception and the ability to advocate. In order to compete in the pageant, contestants had to develop a platform, write a speech, and travel the state for a year talking about issues that affect her life as well as others that are affected by disability.

When I looked past the crown and the sash, I was sold. This was right up my alley. I have been passionate about advocacy for as long as I can remember, and at the time I also wanted to do more speaking. I thought competing in the pageant would give me an opportunity to practice doing what I hoped would be a future career.

Lo and behold, I won. I was surprised that day but vowed to do my best representing the population that I was a part of. It was fabulous! The highlights of the year were a private meeting with the governor and getting a special award at the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant that had never been given before in the program’s 35-year history.
And then came the next pageant where I was going to pass on my crown to another woman who was wheelchair mobile.
I had written a farewell speech and practiced it for days before the crowning ceremony. I breathed a sigh of relief after it was over. The speech had gone well and I planned to sit back and relax as a spectator for the rest of the event. What I saw next had a profound impact on my soul.
One of the former title holders had started a wheelchair ballroom dance company several years previous and she performed an exhibition with her partner. It was like nothing I had ever seen. The wheelchair user seemed to glide across the floor, almost floating with the music. It was graceful. It was beautiful. I wasn’t used to thinking about people who used wheelchairs in those terms. There were dance moves that incorporated her wheelchair almost like it was a prop. By the time the routine ended, tears were streaming down my face and I asked the dancers how I could do what they had just done. I have been taking wheelchair ballroom dance lessons ever since. Over time, dancing has become one of my deepest passions.
Fast forward six years. Brandon, my dance instructor and I, have a routine to the Josh Groban song, “You Raise Me Up.” that is my favorite. In that span of time, I have been published several times and spoken at several events. Dancing has helped me grow in so many ways. It has challenged my perception of what is possible for my life. It has made part of me whole.
I believe that everyone has several purposes in life and that one of mine is to challenge negative perceptions that some may have about people with disabilities. Hopefully some of the things I do help some people focus on my abilities instead of what I cannot do.
One of the things on my bucket list is to dance with Brandon on The Ellen Degeneres Show. I am not going to deny that it would be incredibly cool to dance on national television, but my message is more than that. I hope to show, in my small way, what people with disabilities are capable of. Without labels or limitations, the possibilities are endless.

Will you please help me get there?

I don’t often ask for help on this blog.  Since its inception, I have used it only to share my opinions and ideas and to tell you about my experiences as a woman with a disability.  I am asking for your help now because I think all of my followers truly believe in the things I try to do.

Last night I set up a thunderclap account for my bucket list dream of dancing with Brandon White, my dance instructor on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. This is the way it works. If I can get 100 people to support this goal by November 9th, thunderclap will send a message about this idea to all the supporters and all of their friends. That means if the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, for example, 30,000 people will get a message about the Help Lorraine and Brandon dance on the Ellen Degeneres Show Facebook page.

These are the steps to follow to support this campaign, which is completely free.
1. Please click on the thunderclap link below:
2. Once you do do, please click on one of the three red tabs (support with Facebook, support with Twitter, or support with Tumblr)
3. Then it will ask you once more to add your support.
4. After all these steps are followed, it will post to whichever social media site that was picked.
5. You will receive a confirmation message that you have supported this campaign.

Here is the link again:

Please share it with all of your friends!  Thanks!
I have a dream to dance on the Ellen Degeneres Show to raise awareness and take one small step in showing what people with disabilities are truly capable of achieving.
Just dance!