Runner with Multiple Sclerosis Becomes Top CompetitorThe Breast Cancer Site
Kayla Montgomery is one of the top long distance runners in the country, but she can't always feel her legs. Because of multiple sclerosis, she knows her legs are moving but not how fast or where they are – she just runs.
Montgomery was a regular kid until one day during her freshman year of high school when she lost feeling in her feet after soccer practice. The diagnosis came in October of 2010, when doctors confirmed she had multiple sclerosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease, also known as MS, causes Montgomery's body to attack her, interrupting the nerves and causing her body to become numb. She could no longer play contact sports and lost all sensation in her legs for 8 months because of the disease.
When medication allowed her to regain feeling, she eventually took up running and went from an average member of her high school track team to a top-level competitor in the state. ESPN chronicled her story in the 12-minute documentary "Catching Kayla."
After each race, Kayla collapses helplessly into the arms of her coach who carries her to the sidelines. Race officials and friends help to cool her down with ice packs and cold water, returning her body to normal temperature, which alleviates her MS symptoms and allows her to walk again.
Because she can't feel her legs, the young runner had to learn to pace herself. She grew faster and faster and eventually won the North Carolina State 3,200 meter title. When asked why she runs, Montgomery told ESPN that it makes her feel like she is fighting back. When she runs, she is happy and normal, like her competitors.
Montgomery is currently a member of the cross-country team at Lipscomb University in Nashville where she continues to make the best of every day.