Photo by Layna Hendrich of PhotographyLayn

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Guest Blogger: Dianna Warren

The first thing that you notice about Dianna is her smile- it can literally light up an entire room! She was a volunteer at the pageant last summer, and she did an amazing job offering support and guidance throughout the week. I was totally out of my comfort zone and had no idea what to expect, and she made me feel so comfortable and confident as the week progressed.

Diana has been married for 35 years- what a testimony in the world today! Last fall, she won the Ms. Wheelchair USA Ohio pageant and will be representing her state in the upcoming national pageant in July. I know she is going to do a great job- she has already proven she is a great advocate for the disability community! Meet Dianna!

Dianna and her husband, Howard, after she won the Ms. Wheelchair USA Ohio pageant
  • Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Dianna Warren, I am 53 years old. I will be 54 in May. I am from Canton, Ohio. I have one brother and one sister- I am the oldest. I graduated from McKinley High School in 1979, then I got married in August 1979. We dated for 3 years before we got married and now it is going on 35 years (time goes by fast)! I like working as a customer service representative, and I am currently looking for work. I’m a very determined individual. I also have a very positive attitude which I speak a lot about, as well as having a lot of faith.

  • Tell us about your disability?

 I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of six. It is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. It’s a genetic disorder affecting the motor neurons where muscles lack the SMN protein, thus causing a poor connection between my nerves and muscles. My muscles don’t receive nerve signals as strong as they should and they don’t get used to their full potential, causing them to atrophy.

  • What is your platform/motto in life?

My platform is on Myths and Facts about People with Disabilities, I never really thought of myself as a stereotype. In fact, I think of myself as a pretty typical American woman, with a wonderful family and many opportunities. Everyone at one time or another might find themselves fighting a stereotype and people with disabilities are no exception. Many stereotypical barriers begin with attitudes. Attitudes are often rooted in misinformation and misunderstanding about what it’s like to live with a disability. I believe people can help remove barriers and change attitudes by accepting people with disabilities as individuals, capable of the same needs and feelings as you. I believe I can make a difference in how the world views individuals with disabilities.

  • What are your favorite activities?

I absolutely enjoy bowling. I have been a secretary / treasurer for a bowling league for people with different disabilities for 27 years. I am proud to say that I carry a 150 average. I enjoy camping- it is relaxing and a time to spend with family and friends while enjoying a good camp fire. I love to play Bingo! I also enjoy traveling, especially where it is warm because I love the beach and swimming. I love getting out and meeting people and different groups and speaking and sharing my life and experiences with others- I love to inspire others. I also like country music and going to concerts. I enjoy volunteering and doing fundraising. 

  • What is something we might not know about you?

Let’s see… I was inducted into the Canton Women’s Hall of Fame for all of my accomplishments and community services. I did some modeling for a clothing store. I belong to the Ohio wheelchair sports which I won gold medals in bowling, power wheelchair racing and obstacle course. I have won a lot of awards.  And I like to gamble (for fun).

  • What are your future plans?

To get a part time job from my home and continue to inspire people. I am always thinking of new adventures.

  • What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome?

I don’t feel like I have had to overcome anything because I have lived all my life with a disability. You know how to get over the barriers, and with a positive attitude and a wonderful husband and family, you can overcome just about everything. 

  • What is the best advice you would give to someone with a recent injury/diagnosis?

Don’t give up! Everyone has a purpose in life. You will have good days and bad days, but everyone does- you have to believe in yourself and have faith. The most important thing is to have a positive attitude- that is what will get you through everything in life.

  • Anything else you would like to share?

I am so honored to have won the title of Ms. Wheelchair Ohio and to be able to represent my state for individuals with disabilities. I am so thankful for the Ms. Wheelchair USA Pageant- it has helped me so much with feeling glamorous and building up more and more confidence about myself. It is an opportunity to meet so many wonderful and inspiring women. I truly love having Ms. Wheelchair USA being part of my family!

Dianna was an amazing volunteer during the 2013 pageant. She will be competing for Ms. Wheelchair USA at the 2014 pageant in July!