The next time you are grunting along the trail, complaining about the pain in your legs and the heavy pack on your shoulders, consider Stacey Kozel. The woman is thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail paralyzed.
Yes, you read that correctly. Kozel is attempting to walk the 2,200 mile journey thanks to groundbreaking computer generated leg braces. She lost her ability to walk two years ago as a result of Lupus disease. But thanks to an innovative new type of leg brace called C-Braces, she is able to walk again.
And not only can she walk, but she’s attempting one of the biggest feats in outdoor sports, thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, something that just 1 in 4 hikers who set out to do actually finish.
She is not at fast as most hikers though. By mid-June, Kozel had reached the half-way point in Virginia where she caught up with a local reporter.
“On the tough days when I ask myself, ‘What the heck am I doing out here?’ It’s the people that keep me going,” Kozel said. “it’s been amazing, the support everyone has been giving me. I really appreciate it.”
But in reality, it’s Kozel that will keep many other people going as she is truly an inspiration.
“I just hope if people see me out here hiking, they won’t give up,” she says. “If it’s something similar or something completely different, just don’t ever give up. We don’t know what the future holds.”
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