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Race & Social Justice

Meet Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Margarita Elizondo

Portrait photo of KPBS Local Hero Margarita Elizondo, August 2016.
Ron Stein
Portrait photo of KPBS Local Hero Margarita Elizondo, August 2016.

On any given day, Margarita Elizondo will roll her wheelchair onto a stage, face a horde of kids, and start dancing.

“The kids love, love, love when I get up on stage and guide them through a dance,” she says. “They’re amazed by my wheelchair.” Elizondo says the students she speaks to are hungry to understand people with disabilities and why they do things differently.

Elizondo uses her chair to make smiles — and statements. She speaks wherever and whenever she gets the chance. Since the incident that injured her, when a man shot her in the neck while she was 7 months pregnant, she’s pivoted her life’s focus to make the disabled community more accessible to others.

“If we’re not visible,” Elizondo says, "there won’t be change because people won’t know our personal stories, or that we exist."

Since shifting her focus to disability awareness, Elizondo has earned the title of Ms. Wheelchair California (after receiving three runner-ups), become a model, and taken a leadership role in the disabled community — dubbing herself “Ms. Hot Wheels."

Ms. Hot Wheels established Blessed With Life, a faith-based support group for people with disabilities and their families. She also speaks regularly in college courses on disability and society, and hosts a podcast called Wheel Talk Wheel Issues that aims to elevate discourse on wheelchair issues and provide helpful information for successful wheelchair life. That’s her goal with earning this nomination, too, as a Disability Awareness Month Local Hero. “I’d like to push toward visibility for folks with disabilities on all platforms. We need to be visible!”

In response to earning the nomination, Elizondo said, “I was so excited I just hung up and didn’t ask for any information. From my excitement, I don’t really remember the call."

Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Margarita Elizondo

See past Disability Awareness Month Local Heroes honorees here.

Meet fellow 2016 honoree Kyle Maynard.

Corrected: November 27, 2022 at 9:53 AM PST
Questions or comments on this story can be directed to Nate John at njohn@kpbs.org.
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