Fans watching would have no idea that young runner, Kayla Montgomery, was any different than the other girls on the track. But she had a secret that not only differentiated her from the other runners, but made her an inspiration to us all.
Montgomery was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at age 14. The autoimmune condition causes her body to attack its own nerve cells and as a result, her brain signals to her spinal cord and other parts of the body short-circuit and it can cause numbing, tingling, spasms, and even loss of movement.
Despite her diagnosis, Montgomery, who had been an avid soccer player, decided she would take up running. So she found a coach who would hold her up—literally.
“She said, I want to run,” Montgomery’s running coach, Patrick Cromwell said. “I want to run fast and I don’t want you to hold back.”
They said she was an average runner, but despite losing feeling in her legs every run to the point that she has no gauge on how fast she’s actually going, her time got shorter and shorter as she accelerated every run.
When asked what she feels when running, Montgomery said, “Nothing. It usually starts in my toes and works its way up to my waist. It just stays like that throughout the rest of the run or race.”
Because Montgomery has no feeling in her legs by the end of the race, she and Cromwell found a way around her temporary lack of coordination when stopping: Cromwell stands at the finish line and catches Montgomery.
It was going well, until Montgomery was up for the State Championships in North Carolina. You have to watch the powerful story. And get your tissues ready.
“To beat it; to outrun it; to know you got every movement out of those legs while you still can. That’s why she’s running,” said Cromwell.
Montgomery is an inspiration that even though life hands you a bad hand, you can outrun it and there are people around you to catch you when you can’t stand on your own.