An Ohio woman, who is paralyzed from the waist down due to Lupus, is doing the unthinkable.
Stacey Kozel has been suffering from Lupus since she was in her early 20s, but it was not until March 2014 that she lost feeling in her legs entirely.
“I look forward to the day there is a cure for lupus (an autoimmune disease) and paralysis,” Kozel wrote on her Facebook page earlier this month.
On her website, Kozel said the more she had spent time in the hospital—or in a wheelchair—the more she knew she needed to get outdoors before she lost her mind. “I have always been very independent and have found lying around to be extremely difficult,” she wrote.
So, to get back to her old self, on March 24 Kozel began her journey to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), which lies between Georgia and Maine. She used a C-brace, made by Ottobock, a computer generated leg support that bends and straightens and has given her the ability to walk—and hike.
“I have always wanted to hike the AT but after becoming paralyzed in March 2014 I wasn’t sure I would get the chance,” Kozel wrote on her Facebook page.
With the new braces she received earlier this year, Kozel is very eager to see what lies ahead as she continues her journey.
Her ultimate goal is to bring awareness to the braces so more people have the ability to get out of their wheelchairs and explore the world.
“Sure…not everyone ‘wants to’ or ‘needs to’ hike the Appalachian Trail, but why not make it possible for people to get out of the house and back to daily living without as much struggle. These braces have the ability to give people their lives back…to me that is NECESSARY!” she wrote on her website.
Kozel is currently hiking the Virginia portion of the trail and expects to reach the end of the trail, in Maine, by the year’s end.
If you want to follow her journey, visit her Facebook page here.