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(CBS) — She’s a beauty queen with an important message.

Pearl Gannon, Miss Wheelchair Illinois, is someone you should know, reports CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield.

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Gannon was eight years old when she slowly began to lose her ability to walk, from a neuromuscular disorder named CMT, and she has observed peoples’ perceptions about those in wheelchairs.

“People will see me rolling down the street. They’ll think I’m completely helpless, and I want to break those stigmas,” she says.

And she has.

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The 27-year-old Chicagoan loves sports. She is active in adapted water skiing and adapted wake-boarding.Last month, she entered the Miss Wheelchair Illinois 2014 pageant and won.

The national pageant will be held in California in August.

“Despite being in a wheelchair, life isn’t over. There are so many things that are still out there for you,” Gannon says.

 

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