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Miss Wheelchair Colorado gets ready to compete for national beauty crown

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DENVER -- A local woman needs help achieving her dream of becoming a national beauty queen.

“I’ve always wanted to be a beauty queen and I was told that you can’t be Miss America because you have a disability,” Amber Gersch said.

Gersch was born with spina bifida, a condition that affects her spinal cord. She has been in a wheelchair since she was 7 years old.

“The wheelchair is pretty much all I know,” she said.

She is a teacher and speaks to children about bullying and including others with disabilities.

Still, for most of her life, Gersch said she has let her disabilities hold her back. But when she heard about a beauty pageant for women with disabilities, she decided to chase her dreams. She competed for the title Miss Wheelchair Colorado and won in 2016.

“You’ve been told that you’re different and different is not good,” Gersch said. “And that’s wrong.”

Miss Wheelchair Colorado is a competition that judges inner beauty instead of outer beauty. Contestants meet with judges and answer questions to earn points.

In August, Gersch will compete for the Miss Wheelchair America crown. That competition also primarily focuses on contestants’ platforms instead of looks. However, Gersch said she still doesn’t feel beautiful enough to win.

“I don’t smile very wide because of my teeth,” she said. “They’ve always been crooked and they’ve been falling out and there’s nothing I can do.”

A friend reached out to the Problem Solvers for help fixing Amber’s smile. They are asking for a dentist who might be able to help improve Gersch's teeth ahead of the Miss Wheelchair America pageant.

She said it will give her confidence to feel as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside, which will help her spread her message about anti-bullying and inclusiveness to more children.

In addition to her smile, Gersch also needs help paying for her trip to the Miss Wheelchair America competition. To help, you can donate to her GoFundMe account.

The Miss Wheelchair Colorado pageant is run by Zara Vargues. To compete in next years, event, email Vargues. The competition welcomes any woman who uses a wheelchair for 100 percent of her daily mobility.

In 2016, the pageant only had two contestants. The most it has ever had in one year was eight. Vargues is hoping to grow the pageant and awareness for women with disabilities.