Suncoast woman to compete for Miss Wheelchair Florida

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - A young woman on the Suncoast who is used to overcoming challenges is about to compete for the top prize in a state-wide competition.

Cody Bowman is your average 27-year-old young woman getting her degree at State College of Florida…with one slight difference. “I like to go to the beach, but it's hard because I need to use a beach wheelchair."

Cody was born with a birth defect called spina bifida. It’s the most common central nervous system birth defect in the world. It involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord while the child is developing in the womb.

"In high school, friendships were hard. Now that I’m an adult, it’s not as hard. People are more mature and grown up. I struggled with acceptance, just accepting me for me. The chair does not define me as a person. It's like your legs -- its just part of me."

Cody wants to change the lens that people see her through, so she can advocate and educate the disabled community. She is running for Miss Wheelchair Florida 2014.

“Saturday morning we will wake up and go through individual interviews, then on-stage interviews. There is no talent portion or bathing suit portion. I have to write a two minute speech.”

And as Cody works to finish her graduation at SCF, she finds out this Saturday if she will be nominated Miss Wheelchair Florida for 2014. Cody tells us whether she wins or not, her main goal is to have fun and enjoy the experience.