A Will to Run: Kayla Montgomery. An inspiration to us all.

Kayla running cross-country. Photo taken from the NCDailyNews

I want to talk about another runner who is inspirational to my running. Her name is Kayla Montgomery. She is unique and an inspiration to all runners- including professionals. Kayla is not your “typical” high school runner, for she is battling MS. From a young age Kayla was an avid soccer player. She was a member of the traveling team and even would sometimes get “called out” by the referees in soccer matches for being too aggressive. This all came to a halt one day when she took a nasty fall during a soccer game. Later that night she started to experience a tingling sensation in her feet. Her family immediately took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with MS.

Once Kayla regained feeling in her legs, she left soccer and took up running. With absolute determination and perseverance she began training harder than ever. She did not want her MS diagnosis to hold her back, she even told her coach, Patrick Cromwell, “I want to run fast”. As she continued to train hard and race, she realized that her legs would go completely number after the first mile. After each race her coach would have to standing on the finish line to literally “catch” her because her legs were so numb that she was unable to control them. Throughout her running career, Kayla was extremely successful. She won the North Carolina State championships in the 3200-meter race and competed in the New Balance National 5,000 meter race.

Kayla running home to victory at the North Carolina State Championships with her coach at the finish line ready to catch her. Photo taken from espn.go

Throughout this process Kayla had to make a choice: whether to be beat by MS or to let it motivate her. Kayla said “When I was first diagnosed I was consumed with self pity, my grades where awful I was sick all the time, and I was anything but fast, but when I finally started to change my perspective on life with MS, I started to notice dramatic improvements on my health, academics, and athletics”. It is amazing to see how a simple change and attitude can turn so many negative things in your life for there better and it is evident that she has used her MS diagnosis to push her to accomplish many things.

Kayla Montgomery running for Lipscomb University. Photo taken from Atlantic Sun

Kayla is so inspirational to me and all people not just runners because she truly shows how it is possible to achieve great things in the face of adversity. It is so easy to stop doing the things you love when you are face hardships, like MS. Montgomery says “Once you begin to accept the negative things in your life and have the perspective  that it allows you to see your situation as your motivator instead… you will be able to find peace again…. However, this doesn’t mean that once you find the sense of peace that it will always be there”. Through this we must recognize whether we are going to let our hardships overcome us or motivate us. There are always going to be hard days, however, the next day is a new day to make to choice to be strong and overcome adversity.

Below are 2 great videos sharing Kayla’s story!

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