Too tired to go on the hike? How about doing the Appalachian Trail paralyzed?
Stacey Kozel from Ohio is actually accomplishing this amazing feat. The 41-year-old suffers from lupus and lost mobility in her lower body in a recent flare up of the disease that attacks her muscles.
According to a report on CNN.com, with the help of assistive leg braces, Kozel is currently halfway through hiking the 2,190-mile long trail.
Why is Kozel going to such great lengths? She says it’s in an effort to impress health insurance companies. She wants to show them just how helpful the braces that they finally covered after a year of communications with her therapist, can be for people.
Ultimately, she wants to make it easier for others who need them to also get their braces covered.
What does her doctor think?
“To say Stacey is an overachiever is an understatement,” said Joey Pollak to CNN.com.
Apparently, he tried to talk her out of going on the massive walking trip but relented.
When she told him after a ten minute conversation that she’d already bought her plane ticket, he gave up.
“She was going no matter if I said ‘yay’ or ‘nay’,” Pollack commented.
Kozel, who has always been active and loves being outside, was diagnosed with lupus when she was 19 years old. The braces she is using are called the Ottobock C-Brace, and they work for individuals who can’t move their legs but have mobility in their hips.
Kozel is making her way to the end of the trail bit by bit with the support of her doctor, her family and friends and those she calls her “trail angels”: strangers who also bring her food and water and offer rides along the way.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that involves the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues and organs.
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans, and around five million individuals worldwide, have some form of lupus. 90% of individuals diagnosed with lupus are female, although it can target both sexes.