In the News: Beauty Pageant Winner Overcomes Physical Challenges

This week, the Bloomington Herald Times published a story about Lesamarie Hacker, a woman who recently won the "Ms. Wheelchair Indiana" pageant and is also part of the Caregiver Homes program. She and her full-time caregiver and partner, Terry, commented on their experience with Caregiver Homes in the article. 


Lesamarie Hacker isn’t a typical pageant holder with a sash and a tiara. Her hands shake from tremors, and her voice is a whisper after recent surgery on her esophagus.

“My list of medical issues is ridiculous,” said Hacker, a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair.

Even with these medical problems, Hacker proudly wears her title of Ms. Wheelchair Indiana 2017 and uses it to foster awareness around people, like her, who face physical and emotional challenges, those like her who require safety rails throughout the house for support, a ramp leading up to the door and the aid of a full-time caregiver.

The Ms. Wheelchair America program was started in 1972 by physician Philip Wood of Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate the achievements of those with physical challenges. Hacker was named the Indiana recipient by leaders in the national program. She will compete in Pennsylvania against 30 title holders for Ms. Wheelchair America.


Caregiver Homes of Indiana provided help and support to Hogue and Hacker.

Caregiver Homes is a Medicaid program that works to develop a home-based network of support for individuals with disabilities or other medical problems. The group trained Hogue so he could be a full-time caregiver for Hacker.

Hogue described Caregiver Homes as more than just a business or a program. To him and Hacker, it was a family, one that helped them stay in their home rather than go to a nursing center.

“Without them we wouldn’t be living here,” Hogue said. “I’d be living in a shack in the woods so she wouldn’t be in the nursing home.”

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