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    Posted March 10, 2014 by
    Syracuse, New York

    MS Month: Overcoming my MS to Follow my Dreams

    As March is National Multiple Sclerosis month, I thought I’d take the time to share my MS story. Being physically active has always been a part of my life. It makes me feel good about myself and gives me a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which significantly modified how I could train and compete. It hasn’t stopped me, never for long periods, anyway – I swim, bike and/or run almost everyday – I just have to do it differently. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease which means I continually have to monitor how I am doing physically, and make adjustments accordingly. This has helped me grow as a person, to accept what I can not change, and put my focus on a goal. If that goal is to continue being physically active, I will find a way to do that by working around the increasing limitations that I face.

    One of my biggest challenges has been over coming foot drop. Foot drop causes the inability to lift the front part of the foot. I have come to rely on many different braces for my different activities. One problem that I was having was that my calf muscle was becoming atrophied. I searched for a solution to this problem and found the Bioness L300. The unit is worn as a small transmitter in the shoe and device strapped below the knee. When I walk, it sends electronic signals to stimulate the nerve which, in turn, signals the muscles to help me lift my foot off the ground and get walking again.
    The brace that I rely on everyday is my Allard carbon fiber Blue Rocker and for running I use the Allard Toe-Off. They are an amazing company that has really worked with me to fit the braces for my different activities. I am even part of there “Team Up” a group put together by Allard to show people that it is possible to bet back up on your feet again!

    In 2012 I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid - a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. The reasons that I shouldn’t have been able to make it to the finish line far outnumbered the reasons I should have. But on race day the triathlon stars aligned and 16 hours and 16 minutes after I started, I crossed the finish line to hear “The first time for Jill – Jill you are an Ironman.” In 2013, I also participated in the Para-National Championship in Texas in May as well as the New York City Triathlon Para Championship in July.

    In 2013, I participated in The Challenged Athletes Foundation’s (CAF) Million Dollar Ride from San Francisco to San Diego: 620 miles in 7 days. I really struggled physically with my balance during that ride which sent me on a search for a safer way to bike. With a great mentor and CAF’s help I think I have solved that problem (I really want to try that again).

    If you really want to do something there is a way and if that way stops working – Look for a new way.

    I want to live my life with no regrets!
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