Paraylzed Medina woman beats the odds with major hiking adventure on the Appalachian Trail

Posted at 5:51 PM, Dec 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-13 18:21:25-05

Walking is something Stacey Kozel never takes for granted.

"It's funny how you really forget how to walk," she said.

At a young age, she was diagnosed with Lupus and few years ago, she had the worst flare up of them all.

“I just didn't feel well, I was really sick, my face was numb...within a couple of days I lost all mobility," Kozel explained.

That incident ended up paralyzing both her legs, doctors told her she would never walk again, but being the type of person she is, her story doesn't end there.

“You can't stop Stacey, when she thinks she's going to do something, or when she wants to do something, she does it," expressed Patsy Remington, one of Kozel’s long life friends.

Kozel researched and found a new rare type of leg brace, called the Ottobock C-Brace, allowing her to walk and function almost close to normal.

"I just didn't want Lupus to control my life," she expressed.

Just weeks after getting her new braces, she was off to take on one of the biggest challenges a hiker could do, with absolutely no training.

“I was even thinking, however slow I was, at least I was doing it on my own, and I didn't need people to help me, I had my independence out there," said Kozel.

Just now getting back from blazing the more than 2,000 mile Appalachian Mountain trail across 14 states solo for the past 7 months, she said it definitely wasn't easy.

“I think my mind is still on the trail.I just have to take a lot of breaks and stop and try to catch my I was slower than everyone else," she said.

But she found her encouragement for other hikers along the way.

“You meet someone in 5 minutes and they become your family out there, everyone looks out for each other, has each other's back."

Completing a feat that only 1 in 4 hikers actually end up finishing, Kozel says her goal was to inspire others to push pass their own limits and go for it.

“If anyone hears my story, that whatever they're going through, that they don't give up," she said.

A dream her friend Patsy Remington said is already being fulfilled.

“I'm so proud of her, I just, I look up to her everyday, she kind of like my angel actually"

Kozel is currently working on a book to document her recent journey. She also has another hike in the works, on the Pacific Crest Trail.