Even if Kayla Montgomery were a typical teenage athlete, she would be worth profiling. Montgomery climbed the athletic ranks growing up, trying her hand at multiple sports. Ultimately Kayla’s unquenchable love for sports would lead her to win her state long-distance running championship. But what makes Kayla outstanding is the fact that she has a debilitating disease.
At the age of fourteen, doctors discovered that Kayla had multiple sclerosis (MS) after the young athlete complained of numbness in her feet. Kayla learned that her love of sports may not be something she could pursue for long. After months of deep depression in the face of her bleak future, Kayla decided to embrace however much time she had left to compete. With a strong medical regimen and a coach who believed in her ability defy the odds, Kayla began running.
Astonishingly, though, Kayla cannot feel her legs when she is running. She has no feeling whatsoever once the heat in her muscles fully triggers the numbness, soon after she begins her run. This lack of feeling means that Kayla cannot bring herself to a coordinated stop at the end of her run. Instead, she literally runs into her coaches arms; he picks her up and helps her to cool down as quickly as possible so that feeling will return to Kayla’s legs.
In a feature entitled, Catching Kayla, ESPN told Kayla’s amazing story and captured the incredible bond between Kayla and her coach:
When asked why Kayla runs, her coach replied:
To beat it. To outrun it. To know you got every movement out of those legs while you still can. That’s why she’s running.
Kayla affirms: If I’m not able to run at some point down the road, at least I can look back and know that when I could, I gave it my all.
Through her tremendous strength and courage, Kayla reminds us that a life cannot be defined by a medical condition or a diagnosis. She reminds us Life is beautiful.