It had always been a dream, and for a long time it looked as though it would stay that way.
Like so many Ohioans, Stacey Kozel had long hoped to hike the Appalachian Trail one day. The combination of natural beauty and the physical challenge had always appealed to her. But when a car crash exacerbated the complications of her Lupus condition, Kozel was left immobile in the cruelest of ways.
“I couldn’t roll over, couldn’t even lift up my head,” Kozel told WBIR News.
The diagnosis was grim. Doctors told Kozel that she would never walk again. Many around her, including friends and family, gave up hope she would ever get back what was lost.
But Kozel kept fighting, despite her condition, and kept hoping out of sheer determination not to fail her dream.
“If you don’t five up you just never know what you are, what could happen,” she told WBIR News.
Now that hope is paying off in ways that seemed impossible not long ago.
She is now reaching her goal of hiking the almost 2,200 mile trail. She uses leg braces called C-braces, which are computer generated, to help her walk. She started the journey in March and expects to finish the trek in about a year.
“Whenever I get done, I get done and I’m just trying to take it easy and listen to my body a little bit but I’ll get there. The one thing I know, I’ll finish it just won’t look pretty and it won’t be fast,” Kozel said.
Kozel is excited to share her story, her journey and her tribulations. She said it’s a tough hike but every step is worth it to achieve her goal and to defy the odds.
“No one would think I would be hiking the Appalachian Trail right now. I just don’t want people to give up because anything is possible. I’ve always believed that the possibilities are endless and you just got to keep fighting,” Kozel shared.
Head over to WBIR for the full story.