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The new first lady

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As the wife of a state senator for 20 years, Ginger Beebe traveled miles up and down the white marbled steps between the first, second, and third floors of the state Capitol.

So wouldn’t you know, as soon as she becomes Arkansas’s first lady-elect and her public visibility increased, she tripped — and broke a foot.

It happed on the day the Democratic Party of Arkansas hosted a rally on the outside steps of the building to celebrate Beebe’s win.

“It was so silly, the number of times I’ve gone up those stairs,” she said. “I wasn’t paying attention, pointing out the beautiful fixtures for a friend from back home, and I stepped wrong.”

The diminutive wife of the incoming governor laughed at the knee-high plastic boot encasing her left foot on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. She was getting around with the help of crutches and a wheelchair.

With the holiday season in full swing, an inauguration and a move to the Governor’s Mansion to organize, Ginger Beebe had no time for the injured-reserve list.

One thing she is already thinking about: What issues she wants to showcase with her new celebrity.

“I’m looking forward to championing some causes,” she said. “Volunteerism is something I’ve done and feel strongly about. And women’s and children’s issues.”

She also hopes to help focus attention on mental illness, “in light of what we have experienced. I have a new appreciation.” In October, the Beebes’ son-in-law took his own life after a series of threats and incidents of domestic violence.

The new first lady also said her recent stumble has given her a new cause — access for the handicapped. “There have been a few places I had trouble getting into,” she said. “I have a few letters I want to write.”

But she said her injury isn’t slowing her down.

“This is a new challenge. I look forward to it.”

— Joan Duffy

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