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Ashlee Lundvall

Photo by Layna Hendrich, Photographylayn

For such a small town, Cody sure has more than its share of accomplished people. Sure, Buffalo Bill was considered the best-known person in the world at one time, but there have been others who have gone on to achieve great things.

One of my neighbors is former United States Senator Alan Simpson whom I have looked up to my whole life – he’s very tall! Senator Simpson (many people still call him “Al,” but I cannot imagine calling him anything but “Senator” or “Mr. Simpson”) is one of those people you run into on the sidewalk and he is genuinely interested in your life. He is unfailingly polite and encouraging.

Those words describe a lot of people around here. We teach our kids to say “please” and “thank you” and how to use their knives and forks properly. And we always tell them they can do whatever they set out to.

When I heard the news recently that our own Ashlee Lundvall had won a national pageant I stopped in my tracks and let out a silent scream of pride and congratulations.

You see, Ashlee was paralyzed in 1999 when she was 16, and the pageant she won was the Ms. Wheelchair U.S.A. competition in Stow, Ohio, birthplace of Larry Csonka (town motto: “Larry Csonka was born here.”).

Ashlee is married to Russ Lundvall who grew up in Cody, and the two are proud parents of a two-year-old daughter – Addison.

Ashlee is very strong-willed and determined to enjoy the best things Cody has to offer. She became involved in the Wyoming Disabled Hunters program a few years ago and has developed a true passion for this quintessential Wyoming sport. She also enjoys camping, riding all-terrain vehicles and kayaking the Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

As with most pageant winners, Ashlee will spend much of the next year traveling in her role of Ms. Wheelchair U.S.A. I can certainly picture her demonstrating to people that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to and that obstacles are meant to be overcome.

In other words, she will be unfailingly polite and encouraging.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and remembering to say please and thank you – in Cody, Wyo.