33 year old Kelli Merrit is no ordinary person. On January 1st she took part in an nationwide event called Commitment Day, an annual event sponsored by Life Time dedicated to people pledging publicly the lifestyle changes they are going to make to change their lives. Exercise, weight lose, being active, eating better… and for Kelli Merrit, the opportunity to that even though she has multiple sclerosis, it will not ruin, or run her life. And running is exactly what she did.
Kerri began having trouble with her hands. In the spring of 2012 she was having a very hard time walking, or moving her feet. Taken to the emergency room, the MRI showed she had lesions on her brain. The doctors confirmed the diagnosis of MS and Kerri’s life crumbled.
MS destroys the myelin sheaths that surround and protect the spinal cord and brain. This causes scar tissue that interrupts the signals sent from the brain the rest of the body. For Kelli, a two millimeter lesion on her spinal chord left her unable to walk. She now needed to relearn basic mobile skills that she had done all her life. Walking, tying her shoes, getting dressed. Anxiety, fear, depression, anger… it was a tough and exhausting rehabilitation.
One day Kelli’s manager brought up the idea of Commitment Day and having everyone on staff participate it in some way. Kelli laughed at the idea thinking that she couldn’t even walk. Then she thought about it. And kept thinking about it. And finally became inspired by the idea of walking the 5k, and began training for it with her walker.
Race day was cold and icy. Kelli’s partner joined the race to walk it with her. 5k seemed like a marathon and at one point her walker hit ice and Kelli fell to the ground. She didn’t let it stop her. She said, “Everyone has something to overcome. It might be a broken leg, or chronic back pain. Whatever it is, you have to face it and learn about it so you can beat it.” Kelli crossed the finish line in two hours and six minutes.
Kelli became a symbol and an inspiration to not only her friends and coworkers, but to strangers who supported her during the race. She used the power of her mind to overcome her physical condition, and in the end, not only showed the world, but herself that the disease does not own her life.
Credit: True Commitment. Experience Life Magazie. December 2013.