GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An exciting national competition is in Grand Rapids this week where competitors from across the country will be touring around the city.

For the next week, competitors for Ms. Wheelchair America will be staying and competing at the Amway Grand Plaza. There are 18 participants in the competition, one of them is Allison Boot from Dayton, Ohio. 

“I write books featuring characters with disabilities that are stories of self-acceptance and equity,” Boot, who has self-published three books, said. 

She was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Ohio this year. Boot was born with cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair her whole life, but that doesn’t stop her from competing and advocating for change. 

“We as advocates get to shine a light on the fact that people with disabilities don’t need to be changed or cured. It’s the world around us that needs to adapt,” Boot said. 

Competitors toured the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Monday as they geared up for the competition to begin tomorrow, with judges’ interviews. Mary Zendejas was also a part of the people touring the hospital. She is the vice president for Ms. Wheelchair America and the first Latina wheelchair user elected into office in the country. 

“Everybody comes in a little bit nervous, of course, but by the end of the week, everybody is like best friends and they don’t want the week to end. And I think that’s what keeps me coming back every year,” Zendejas said. 

Contestants will deliver their speeches to the public on Friday night at the Amway Grand Plaza. Then on Saturday, the public will be able to meet the top five participants and the winner will be crowned. The events will be live streamed on the Mary Free Bed Facebook page