It’s been ten years since a car crash left Barb Zablotney paralyzed. Now, she wants to stand up for others sitting down.
“I walked for 21 years. I know what it’s like on the other end. And I remember the ignorance I even had back then,” Zablotney said.
For the past decade, Zablotney has had a new perspective on life and others living with disabilities.
“I hit a patch of black ice and lost control and wrecked my car. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and ended up going into the backseat and I was paralyzed on impact,” Zablotney said.
Zablotney was recently crowned Miss Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2018. She wants to raise awareness about the issues and ignorance people living with disabilities face: like insensitivity, accessibility and handicapped parking.
“They’ll steal other people’s tags. They’ll use other people’s tags. They’ll park in them without any tags at all,” Zablotney said.
“Do the right thing. If you’re of able bodied, park in a spot where you should be parked at. Save those spots for people who need them,” said Richland Township Police Sergeant Jason Shuman.
Police can only enforce handicapped parking if signs are properly posted: a responsibility and financial burden placed on business or property owners.
“It has to be properly signed with it stating ‘handicapped parking’ also with the fine amounts,” said Sgt. Shuman.
Zablotney said she’s inspired by the other contestants and she hopes to inspire and eduate others.
“I understand both sides,” said Zablotney. “I feel like I was that way for lack of education. So if people are aware and education is out there, then they’ll know more and it will translate into everyday life.”
Zablotney hopes to take her platform of awareness and education for people living with disabilities to the national Miss Wheelchair competition in Michigan this summer.
If you’d like to help raise money to send Barb to nationals, you can visit the Miss Wheelchair PA website or Barb’s Facebook page. There is also a donation box located inside Windber Chiropractic Clinic located at 1308 Graham Ave, Windber, PA 15963.