Saleem Juma is more than his title of Mr. Washington State. In the upcoming Mr. United States competition – an organization dedicated to providing a platform for men to showcase themselves and their values – he will represent and inspire those with disabilities, as well as those who have a desire to turn disadvantage to a advantage. Saleem’s life changed at 14 when he was diagnosed with a variation of Crohn’s Disease called Ulcerative Colitis. After getting his intestines removed at 19, he had an ostomy bag permanently placed on his stomach. In just four years, Saleem had endured several surgeries and over 40 hospitalizations. Suffering through much pain, both physical and emotional, has taken its toll, but Saleem remains positive.
“It’s made me a stronger person,” Saleem says. “I’m no longer afraid to spread my wings and fly.” He recognizes that this is an opportunity to continue his advocacy for empowering others with similar medical conditions. “I want to inspire those with disabilities who are different from the norm and show them that they can do anything they put their mind to. I also want to show those who aren’t disabled that we are strong, and are more than just our disabilities.”