Carbon County Woman Championing Her Cause with a Crown

PENN FOREST TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A young woman in Carbon County isn't letting a life-altering car accident stop her from seeking her dreams to stand out.

27-year-old Danielle DeAngelis was left paralyzed after that crash seven years ago.

This weekend, she was crowned Miss Wheelchair Pennsylvania.

As a college student in 2011, Danielle DeAngelis had dreams for her future.

But nearly 8 years ago, a life-altering crash on Route 903 changed all that, leaving the now 27-year-old paralyzed from the hips down.

“I was going towards Albrightsville and there was this dip there and it was full of ice,” said DeAngelis. “And I slid on ice and my car flipped and I was paralyzed on impact.”

DeAngelis, who lives outside Jim Thorpe, admitted she struggled with depression afterward.

But after learning about a contest called the Miss Wheelchair Pennsylvania, she entered and won the crown in Erie.

Along with her duties as the state's crown holder, she's making a personal effort to find funding so more businesses buy ramps and become ADA compliant, including in Jim Thorpe's downtown.

“I would really love to help make businesses more accessible,” said DeAngelis. “I would really love to get in contact with my state legislators and representatives to see if we could figure out a way to donate or grants.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 but not everyone has to be in compliance. Exempt are private clubs, religious organizations, and companies with 15 employees or fewer.

As she fights for her cause, DeAngelis will serve as the state's wheelchair queen for the year and also plans to compete for the national title Miss Wheelchair America this summer.

“This is like opening doors and her life is beginning now,” said DeAngelis’s mother, Cindy DeAngelis. “After being here with this situation for seven years now, I mean, this is a big stepping stone. I can see her life is going to take off.”

According to the head of the national Miss Wheelchair Organization, there are tax incentives for businesses which become ADA compliant.

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