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Iron Will

Stacey Kozel Doesn’t Let Partial Paralysis Prevent Her from Walking the Appalachian Trail

There was a time—actually, a few times—that Stacey Kozel ’15 didn’t know if she would walk again.

After a high school soccer injury to her spinal cord left her paralyzed, she was diagnosed with lupus—an inflammatory autoimmune disease. That means Kozel has been in and out of the hospital most of her adult life. After a life-threatening car accident and a severe lupus flare up left her wheelchair-bound and paralyzed in both legs in 2014, she pondered her next move.

“I’ve had to learn how to walk more than once,” she said of her post-accident condition. “I remember the second or third time laying in the hospital and looking up and thinking, ‘God, what are you trying to tell me here?’ No one should learn how to walk more than once.”

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