It had always been a dream for Stacey Kozel, from Ohio, to hike the Appalachian Trail but reaching that goal almost didn't happen when she became paralyzed a few years ago.
Kozel was involved in a car accident and she also had a previous diagnosis of lupus. Doctors told her the combination of the two took away her ability to walk.
“I couldn’t roll over, couldn’t even lift up my head," Kozel shared.
At one point, the doctors told her she would never walk on her own again but Kozel never gave up hope.
"There were some people that were definitely didn’t have a lot of hope. But I’ve always had hope. I think you should always have hope. If you don’t give up you just never know what you are, you know, what could happen. I mean, who would think that someone paralyzed would be hiking right now so anything is possible," Kozel explained.
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.
"My address is on the Appalachian trail right now," Kozel laughed.
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.
She doesn't mind taking her time because it's allowed her to meet friends along the way. She said it's the people she meets who inspire her to keep going.
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.
If you'd like to follow Kozel on her journey through the Appalachian Trail, click here.