August 26, 2018 6:04 pm
Updated: August 26, 2018 6:38 pm

Edmonton woman crowned Miss Wheelchair Canada: ‘It’s very surreal’

Bean Gill, 36, was crowned Miss Wheelchair Canada 2018.

Courtesy, Bean Gill
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An Edmonton woman who was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease six years ago has been crowned Miss Wheelchair Canada 2018.

Bean Gill is the second Edmonton woman to take home the title in as many years. Gill won the pageant in Vancouver on Saturday night.

“It was really exciting. I was super happy to be there, very grateful and had a lot of fun with the full three days with all the other girls,” she said Sunday.

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“It’s very surreal for me to think that I’m a pageant queen and that I have this title now.”

READ MORE: Edmonton woman uses Miss Wheelchair pageant to inspire others with disabilities

Gill was on vacation in Las Vegas in 2012 when her life changed forever. She felt a sudden pain in her lower pain that lasted several minutes, before her legs then went numb from the waist down. Several months later, she was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder that causes paralysis.

After months of what she described as deep depression and hating her life, Gill decided to make a change. She’s since been working to get movement back in her legs while pushing herself to try sports she never would have attempted before being paralyzed.

Watch below: Bean Gill was the Global Edmonton MVP in January 2017

Miss Wheelchair Canada aims to break down barriers for women who live with disabilities.

Gill said she plans to use her newfound title to continue sharing her story and help change the stigma surrounding people with disabilities.

“There’s been a thought around people with disabilities that we are worth less or that we are thought of as less than and that our opinions don’t matter,” she said.

“What people don’t realize is that we are people first and nobody chooses to have a disability. So when this is thrust upon you or when you are born with this, you try to make the best of your situation. And people with disabilities don’t have any other choice but then to be resilient and to fight harder than the able-bodied population.”

READ MORE: People with disabilities face fears by attempting scuba diving

Last year, an Edmonton woman also took home the title.

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