Stacey Kozel has traversed the beautiful, periodically brutal 2,189.1-mile Appalachian trail—the legendary broken path cutting lengthwise through the bubbling mountain range that gives it its name and 14 eastern states. That would be enough of a feat (many hikers aspire to it). What makes her journey special, though, is the fact that she’s the first person—male or female—to do it while a diagnosed quadriplegic.
Technically, as this stirring, essential article from ESPNw details, Kozel is a functioning paraplegic, having regained some use of her arms after a bout with lupus compromised all four of her limbs some years ago. Nonetheless, her journey is a stunning victory for both the human will and modern technology.
While, as the article explains, most of what helped Kozel cross those forests, slopes, and craggy boulder formations came straight from inside her determined mind, a state-of-the-art mechanical exoskeleton helped her do what her own leg muscles could not. It’s a brilliant meeting of woman and machine.
Bottom line, if you’re feeling a little bogged down, overwhelmed by your life and the news, one of the best things you can do right now is take 10 minutes and click over to ESPNw and dig into Matt Grossman’s piece on Kozel and find out what fueled her, what happened on her journey, and what “though” really means. It’s a great escape, one that will have you returning with a little bit of fire to help your burn through whatever’s in front of you.