Erica Myron from Washington was crowned Ms Wheelchair USA 2021 at the end of this pageant, held on July 17, 2021 in Northeast, Ohio. With the traditional spirit of pageantry in mind, Ms. Wheelchair USA recognizes that all women, despite any disability, can be glamorous, and can exhibit self-confidence in personal, professional, and public life. Ms. Wheelchair USA wins a national speaking and appearance tour and management contract.
The Ms. Wheelchair USA’s court includes (from left to right)
3rd runner-up – Joci Scott, Ms. Wheelchair Northern USA
1st runner-up – Michele Miller, Ms. Wheelchair Alabama USA
Ms. Wheelchair USA 2021 – Erica Myron, Ms Wheelchair Washington USA
2nd runner-up – Sarah Tompkins, Ms. Wheelchair Pacific Coast USA
4th runner-up – Ashley Lawrence, Ms. Wheelchair South Carolina USA
History of Erica Myron
On a summer night 17 years ago, a group of people broke into Erica Myron’s house in Mesa, Arizona. Her life would never be the same. The evening of July 23, 2003, Myron and her 9-month-old son, Fabian Smith, were kidnapped. It was drug-motivated, Myron said.
“They told me to say goodbye to Fabian because it would be the last time I’d ever see him,” she said. They left Smith in an apartment complex and drove Myron out to a mountain range in the middle of west Phoenix. Along a dirt road, they stopped at a canal. Myron saw a man standing on a hill.
When she approached, asking what he wanted to talk about, the man pulled out a gun. “He asked me if I could run faster than a bullet, then I would live,” she said.
She turned to run and felt something strike her in the back.
“It didn’t hurt and it didn’t burn. It felt like I was hit with a rock and I rolled down the hill,” she said.
Myron heard the gun go off several more times. Along with a shot to her back, she was hit in her right arm. Another bullet grazed her left arm. A fourth shattered her hand.
Terrified he’d continue shooting, she didn’t move.
“I picked a star in the sky and just concentrated and held my breath for what just seemed like forever,” she said, as she heard them drive away.
Myron tried to stand but she couldn’t feel her legs. She crawled to a nearby railroad tie and draped herself across it, elevating her wounds. Remembering that stuffing gauze inside a wound helps stop bleeding, she tried to do the same with sand, and is still not sure if it helped.
Then Myron called “fire,” thinking it would attract someone faster than calling “help.” No one came — but someone did hear her.
At 1 a.m., a man farming on his ATV thought he heard abandoned kittens and called the police.
As she lay there, Myron thought about her son.
“I thought about Fabian — I’m gonna miss his first day of school, his graduation, his marriage. I have this kid that I wasn’t going to see grow up,” she said.
And then she saw a light.
“People always say that when you die you see a light, and I was thinking, ‘This is the end, this is my time,’ and I just wished my son all the best,” Myron said.
But it was a helicopter.
“The first person I saw was a sheriff who told me that I was going to be OK, that I was safe,” she said.
She gave police her son’s information, and they found him safe seven hours later. The morning after the shooting, two people were found and arrested.
Myron spent three months recovering in the hospital, where she learned she was paralyzed from her L1, or first lumbar, vertebra down.
“I wouldn’t look at my wheelchair because I didn’t want to believe that was going to be the rest of my life,” Myron said.
Myron was released from the hospital on Oct. 3, 2003 — Fabian’s first birthday.
Myron returned to school in December 2003. She wanted to help other people like her. She studied criminal justice and got her associate’s degree. But no one would hire her because she was in a wheelchair, she said.
“That was the first living experience, being a wheelchair user, that the world (didn’t) see me the way I saw myself… I still saw myself as capable,” she said.*
In 2012, Myron and her son moved to Puyallup. Myron met up with her then-longtime friend, Joshua Myron. The two married.
“When she tells her story, because I love her… I can’t believe that it happened and how dare they — and all these emotions go through me,” said Joshua Myron, who works at an adult treatment center in Tacoma.
Erica Myron wanted to return to school near her new home, this time for nursing. But she was nervous. It was her son who encouraged her.
“When I was little, I thought she was way too scared to go… there was a quote I kept telling her so many times… at the end I always said, ‘Just do it,’” said Smith. “I was worried about her going back (to school) at first … but the smile on her face when she gets in her car and says ‘I’ll see you later’ and she drives away, I wouldn’t trade that for the world,” Joshua Myron said.