There is one thing Kayla Montgomery knows plenty about – dedication. Even a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis can’t limit Kayla’s passion for running. This long-distance runner is an incredible athlete, but she also collapses at every finish line. Take a look at Kayla’s inspiring story here, and watch her in action.
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When Kayla Montgomery was 14 she had to give up playing elite soccer due to a devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. While contact sports, like soccer, were now no longer possible for Kayla, she didn’t quit sports entirely. Instead, she put her unwavering focus and determination in a new direction and took up running.
When Kayla started running, even she says she was “average”. But she wanted to keep running while she was still able to.
With guidance from her coach Patrick Cromwell, she soon picked up speed and joined the indoor track, outdoor track and cross-country teams at her North Carolina school. Now one of the best young distance runners in the States, Kayla is an incredible athlete – but also collapses at every finish line.
Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable and progressive condition that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and leads to motor, sensory and cognitive issues. Reduced mobility and fatigue are very common symptoms, but balance, vision, memory, concentration, and speech can all be affected.
When Kayla runs, her body naturally heats up – but for Kayla that means that the muscles in her legs burn and the feeling in her legs deadens. She is completely numb from the waist down.
”It’s a very strange feeling, or lack thereof, to know that your legs are moving but not be able to tell how fast, or tell where, or, I guess, tell anything. You don’t know what’s going on. You just know it’s happening.”
With no feeling in her legs, Kayla can’t slow down, co-ordinate her feet or even stop – she goes from full speed to collapsing at the finish line. Every single time, caught by her coach.
With ice and cold water to cool her down, Kayla soon starts to get feeling back in her legs. She went on to run for Linscomb University, and continues to inspire through fundraising, and awareness.
Watch just how inspirational Kayla is in this video from ABC news – amazing!
If Kayla’s story has inspired you then Great Moments of Sportsmanship, a collection of true, two-minute stories about sportsmanship from all sports and countries around the world is a must read. Each story gives an inspirational boost every day.
These deeply emotional and inspirational stories reveal how the brotherhood of sport brings people together. The book, by Irish author PR Smith founder of The Great Sportsmanship Programme, has a foreword by Ireland’s golf hero and Sky TV pundit, Paul McGinley, and is packed with photos and links to see videos of the stories.
This limited edition classic book would make a unique Christmas present and also presents an opportunity for fireside story-telling (or reading). And there are more short stories (categorised by country and by sport) free on the Greatsportsmanship website. Audio recordings of the stories can be found here.
The Great Sportsmanship Programme is an inspiring programme that helps kids and teens read more, play more & respect more. They offer schools and clubs a 6 week programme that helps inspire, boost literacy, nurture an interest in sport and increase self-esteem & positive thinking. If you think your school or club would be interested then you can find out more and get in touch here.
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What did you think of Kayla Montgomery’s story? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!