Meet Kayla Montgomery. She’s one of the fastest young distance runners in the country. Oh, yeah, she also just happens to suffer from multiple sclerosis. Instead of letting it hold her back from accomplishing her dreams of running a race, she’s used it as motivation to succeed. Kayla was motivated to thrive where others would crumble. This young girl had that same motivation we all need to beat depression, anxiety, and pain. Get inspired by her tale.

Kayla Grew Up Just Like Any Kid

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Kayla enjoyed doing all of the things other young girls enjoy doing. She spent time hanging out with friends, playing dress up, and even competing on a travel soccer team. Then, one day, after falling in a soccer game, she noticed something was wrong.

She was Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis

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After the game, while at home, she began to notice a tingling sensation that started in her toes and worked it’s way up her legs. Before she knew it, Kayla could no longer feel her legs. After multiple visits to the doctor with scans and MRIs, the doctors told Kayla and her parents the news: She had multiple sclerosis, or MS.

Her Parents and Friends Were Devastated

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Kayla’s parents and friends were devastated – and so was she. She spent days and weeks by herself wondering, “Why me?” It was an impossible question for anyone to answer – let alone her parents.

Kayla Decided to Enjoy Life Anyways!

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After the initial shock wore off, Kayla decided that she should make the best of her situation and enjoy the time she has with an able and functioning body. In addition to eating healthy and staying active, Kayla decided to compete again. With contact sports out of the question (per doctor’s orders), she decided to pursue distance running.

One Special Coach Pushed Her to the Limit

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That’s when she met Coach Cromwell – the man that would change the trajectory of her young life. Despite being what he would call an “average” runner when first joining the JV team, Kayla blossomed underneath Coach Cromwell’s guidance and encouragement. He would regularly tell Kayla,

“I want you to run. I want you to run fast. And I don’t want you to hold back.”

Even Though She Can’t Feel Her Legs

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Kayla tried her best to run fast, despite the fact that she couldn’t even feel her legs. Since heat triggers MS symptoms it causes short-term flare ups in which symptoms become rather extreme. Every time Kayla runs, her legs go numb; however, her coach is always there to catch her at the finish line.

Kayla Became the Best on the Team

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Over time, Kayla built up her endurance, learned to fight through the strange sensation of not being able to feel her legs, and quickly became the fastest runner on the team. She even started training with the boy’s team.

Then Kayla Became the Best in the State

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The story doesn’t stop there. Kayla wasn’t satisfied with just being the best distance runner on the team. She wanted to be the best in the state. So, in the final match of her senior year, she faced off with North Carolina’s best high school distance runners in the state meet. Despite falling on the first lap, she picked herself up and raced to a first-place finish.

Her Coach is Always There to Catch Her

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When Kayla finished, guess who was there to catch her? That’s right – Coach Cromwell. Like every race, her coach, mentor, and friend was there to pick her up and help her regain the feeling in her legs.

Awareness for Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple sclerosis is a very serious disease that deserves more attention and funding. Currently, an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide (400,000 people in the United States) suffer from MS.

Learn more by visiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s website.

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