Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on July 8 gave a send-off at the capitol to the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Texas USA 2021 as she prepares to represent the state in the upcoming Ms. Wheelchair USA 2021 national competition.

Abbott met with Whitney Lavender, 39, of Caldwell, Texas, (Burleson County) who will compete Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17, in the national competition in Ohio, Ms. Wheelchair USA’s Facebook page said.

“You make Texas proud. Good luck at the national competition!” Abbott tweeted on Twitter.

Meeting Abbott was “the most memorable experience” Lavender has had, she said on her Facebook page.

“I truly get chill bumps every time I talk about it. Gov. Abbott just happens to be rolling through life in a wheelchair, as well,” Lavender said on her Facebook page. “I have so much appreciation as he did not just come in for pictures, but he took the time to really speak with me about all kinds of things. There are no words that can encompass my level of appreciation.”

Lavender is director of community engagement for the Texas Rare Alliance, which, according to LinkedIn, is a nonprofit that improves access and health outcomes for Texans who have rare diseases. Lavender’s motto and platform is “Different is Beautiful. Rare is Strong. Your Voice Is Powerful & a Tool for Change,” Ms. Wheelchair USA’s Facebook page said.

“In 2017, Whitney was injured in an accident that triggered Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which eventually led to an above-the-knee amputation in 2020,” Ms. Wheelchair USA’s Facebook page said. “She also lives with Arnold Chiari Malformation, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and Multiple Sclerosis.”

People who have physical and developmental disabilities live lives “full of courage” to face daily challenges, Lavender said on her Facebook page.

“My favorite definition of courage is, ‘strength in the face of pain or grief.’ Saying that I have had to tap into courage a time or two throughout my medical journey would be an understatement,” Lavender, who is married and has four children, said on her Facebook page. “Courage is something that I must arm myself with each day when I awake to battle life with a rare disease and multiple chronic illnesses.”

If chosen Ms. Wheelchair USA, Lavender would win a national speaking and appearance tour plus management contract, Ms. Wheelchair USA’s Facebook page said.