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Read Why One Individual Completed a “Walk for NORD”

NORD's development coordinator, recently received this letter from Nancie Etzel who completed a "Walk for NORD", a feat that was once thought unattainable. Here is what she wrote:

Dear Ms. Fields,

As promised, here is the “Why I Did This” letter.  I completed my “Walk for NORD” on January 30, 2013.  It was a windy 46-degree day; the sun was shining when I took to the track at South Belton Middle School at 10:00 a.m. I managed 1600 meters, mathematically speaking, one mile to you and me.

Why did I choose this feat? Well, it stems from my want to achieve a goal that many people, mostly in the medical field, thought impossible.  Born with Arthrogryposis and at age 17 diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos, I overcame many obstacles.  I attended a high school with 3,000 other students, three with any type of visible disABILITIES.  I walked with no assistive devices, but fell down if you blew too hard my way.  I attended college and attained a Bachelor’s in Psychology.  After a short stint as a secretary for a busy medical office, I decided I wanted to use all of my abilities so I went back to school.  I was awarded a dual teaching certificate in Art and Special Education. While teaching in the late ‘90’s I was knocked down by a mentally disABLED student, 4 days later I could not pick up a book, within 6 months I needed a manual wheelchair, followed by a reclining power wheelchair.  I lost the ability to walk, read, write, drive, and to take care of myself.  About 6 months later, I had to sell my house, my pickup truck and move in with my parents.  I had seen multiple doctors with no real diagnosis, until a nationally recognized neurologist pronounced I most likely had progressive Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS).

At the time of the ALS diagnosis, I was attending a program for people with Multiple Sclerosis, the medical community later discounted the idea I had MS, but it was somewhere for me to go for support including light physical therapy.  Since I had no idea whether I would walk or not walk ever again, I decided to try to regain some of my strength.  Due to sheer determination, a year and some days later, I moved out of my parent’s home.  Later, with some adaptive equipment, I resumed driving and began to volunteer as a disABILITY advocate.

In 2006, my parents moved to Michigan to be nearer to their grandchildren.  In 2007, I finally had it with Maryland’s winter weather, so I moved to Texas.  I was able to maintain my house, volunteer and care for myself, however I knew I could be doing better, not only financially, but physically as well.  In January 2012, I received a coupon to join the local gym. I had rewired my brain in terms of money and eating, why not exercising?

I called and inquired about whether the personnel had ever trained people with disABILITIES, although the young man replied he had not, he was eager and willing to learn and help in any way possible.  I started going to the gym the first week of February 2012 and haven’t looked back.  I began walking on the treadmill at 0.6 miles an hour and could only manage 15 minutes.  Today, I am walking at 1.7 miles an hour and I am able to walk for 25 minutes.  I am also working on my upper body strength and my functioning is 100% better then it has been in years!  To this day, my trainer, Tyler Burke, has continually supported me and urged me to work hard each and every time.

So I did the “Walk for NORD” to prove to myself I could accomplish a goal once thought unattainable.  I did it to let people know when someone is disABLED; it means the person has it within himself or herself to triumph over adversities, be they large or small.

Thank you to NORD for all the organization does for those of us, who seemingly do not have a voice, but we do, we must choose to use it for our today and our future.


Nancie Etzel

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