The organization Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania empowers women who use wheelchairs to advocate and educate about different disabilities.

Christine Vasui was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2024 and is bringing awareness to an issue she said affects many with disabilities, including herself.

“I think I wanted to advocate for higher wages for personal care attendants because there’s such a shortage of personal care attendants. That leaves many people with disabilities stuck in bed or not be able to use the bathroom,” said Vasui.

She said not having a personal care attendant present can also disrupt daily activities.

“There are days when I can’t go to work because I don’t have someone to take care of me. Having personal care attendants helps people like myself be able to be independent and live a life as successfully as possible,” added Vasui.

Vasui said people from the Erie community are happy she’s coming forward and bringing awareness to the shortage of personal care workers.

She said her next steps will take her to Grand Rapids, Michigan where she will advocate on a national platform.

“My main goal is to bring more awareness. I’ve written letters to legislators, and I’ve done interviews. I just want people to know that…you never know when you’re going to need the help and not be able to completely care for yourself. So, one day it could be you or it could be anybody,” said Vasui.

Her mother said her willingness to bring the issue to the light is no surprise based on her drive and ambition.

“Christine’s always been a very big go-getter…when she’s passionate about something she goes full force,” said Karen Vantassel, Christine Vasui’s mother.

Vasui said being Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2024 helped bring awareness to look at her as a person, just like everyone else.