By Natasha Anderson
After a car accident left her paralyzed at age ten, Madeline Delp struggled for years with overwhelming fears and self-doubts that were far more limiting than her physical disability. One glance at her résumé today, which includes her titles as Ms. Wheelchair USA and executive director of her own nonprofit organization, indicates that is no longer the case. Though Delp still experiences challenges and insecurities, she now confronts them headon and uses her education and platform to help others do the same.
“When I finally overcame much of the trauma and pain that had held me back for so long, I learned to replace the shame and fear with confidence and self-assuredness,” says Delp. “I realized there were many others in the same situation who desperately needed a voice of hope and I wanted to reach out to them in any way that I could.”
In 2016, Delp entered the world of pageantry, taking advantage of the networking and speaking opportunities it provided. This spring she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair NC and went on to win the national title of Ms. Wheelchair USA in the summer. She also graduated from UNC Asheville this year, with degrees in foreign language and business. By fall, in addition to preparing for a national tour, she had formed Live Boundless, an Asheville-based nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring others to live full, productive and vibrant lives regardless of their physical condition.
“The vision Madeline has for Live Boundless applies to anyone facing obstacles,” says the organization’s board of directors chair Cindy Clarke. “Her indefatigable spirit inspires me and others she meets every day.”
Live Boundless has partnered with a local production company to film a series educating wheelchair users on how they can adapt to various areas of life, including driving, living independently and learning how to deal with trauma. A launch event at Highland Brewery premiering the introduction to the series took place in October. It was such a success that a second gathering premiering the full series is already slated for September 15, 2018.
“I often envision a person who is broken in some way watching one of Madeline’s episodes and realizing that they too can live without limits,” says Clarke. “There is nothing out there that has her positivity and enthusiasm.” In the coming years, Delp plans to continue creating educational and inspirational resources for those with disabilities. She also wants to create legislative change for those who are differently-abled and to advocate for needed social and medical resources for everyone. She will compete in the international Ms. Wheelchair competition next year.
“As I am touring and working with a wide variety of people, I find that I’m constantly in situations that challenge my own ability to live out my boundless mindset,” says Delp. “My biggest piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to chase dreams that make you really uncomfortable. The situations that scare the life out of us are the ones that force us to grow and become something greater than we ever thought we could be.”
Learn more about Madeline and Live Boundless at liveboundless.org. Follow her on Facebook at Madeline Delp – Ms Wheelchair USA 2017 and on Instagram @ liveboundlessgirl