“I stopped focusing on the ‘what ifs’ and just focused on what I’m still able to do, rather than what I might not be able to do [in the future],” says Kayla (front).
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spinal cord: a nerve that runs through the spine and connects the brain to the nerves in the rest of the body paralysis: a loss of the power to move a part of the body diagnosed: told by doctors what disease a patient has scholarship: money given to a student to pay for school mental: having to do with the mind 4
Kayla Won’t Quit A serious illness causes this teen runner to collapse after every race. But that doesn’t stop her from reaching for her dreams. Something was wrong. Kayla Montgomery, then 14, was playing soccer when she first noticed the problems. “I couldn’t feel my toes,” she remembers. “And I got this really painful tingling sensation up and down my spine.” The numbness became so bad that Kayla, who is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, felt nothing from the waist down. This went on for eight months. Luckily, she could still walk. “When I was walking, I kind of felt like I was floating,” she explains. “It was weird.” It was also scary. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing the problem. Months later, Kayla finally learned that she has multiple sclerosis (MS).
problems. There is no cure. With treatment, Kayla’s feeling returned. But no one knew how her disease might develop. Kayla decided that worrying wouldn’t help. “I was not about to let myself be defeated,” she says. “I had to prove to myself and to everybody else that I was stronger than MS.” She had stopped playing soccer. But Kayla could still run, and she had big plans. Kayla’s track coach, Patrick Cromwell, was impressed.
“When she was diagnosed, she said to me, ‘Coach, I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to run fast,’ ” says Cromwell.
Running Numb Kayla trained hard as a distance runner, and her times got faster and faster. But a strange thing happened every time she raced. After the first mile, her legs would start to go numb. By the end of the race, she couldn’t feel them at all. Coach Cromwell carries Kayla after she falls down at the finish line of a race.
Stronger than MS MS is a serious disease that destroys small areas of the brain and spinal cord. It affects people in different ways. Some lose the ability to walk, speak, or see. Others have paralysis or memory www.scholastic.com/actionmag | September 1, 2014
Kayla, with her mom, lives pretty much like any other teen athlete most of the time.
Amazing Racer Kayla’s intense training includes running 50 miles per week. She competes with the top long-distance runners in the U.S. and has won many races. This fall, she starts college at Lipscomb Signs of success: Kayla’s medals. She recently placed 8th in the nation for the 5,000-meter race.
University in Tennessee, on a running scholarship. Still, some people worry that Kayla could get hurt and not feel it. Others wonder if her MS might actually give her some advantage in races, since she doesn’t feel pain. Dr. Lauve doesn’t think so. “If MS has made her a better athlete,” says Lauve, “I believe it is a mental edge.” Kayla agrees that having MS has made her more focused on her goals, since she may have a limited time to achieve them. When she thinks about the future, Kayla is excited for the challenges ahead in college. “I want to see how far I can push myself,” she says. She’s happy that her teammates don’t treat her differently from anyone else. “I don’t want any special treatment,” says Kayla. “I’m trying to just keep running like I don’t have MS, for as long as I can.” —Sarah Jane Brian
JEREMY M LANGE/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX (TOP); TANYA ODOM (BOTTOM)
And when Kayla stopped running, her legs became shaky. She couldn’t control them. Every time she crossed the finish line, she crashed to the ground. Kayla, now 18, still falls after every race. Her coach or her parents wait at the finish line to catch her. Since overheating causes the problem, they put ice packs on her. Kayla is back to normal in about 5 minutes. Is it safe for Kayla to race? Yes, says her doctor, Lucie Lauve. In fact, exercise is often recommended for people with MS.
READING-COMPREHENSION TEST PREP
IS TH IN IS ho TE P las R AG tic AC E .co T m/ IV ac E
Show What You Know
Answer these questions about “Kayla Won’t Quit.” Fill in the bubble next to the best answer to each question.
1. What is the main idea of
this article? A Kayla has won many medals. B Kayla is a great athlete who has MS. C Kayla falls down at the finish line of each race. D Kayla got a scholarship to college.
2. What did Kayla mean when she
told her coach, “I don’t know how much time I have left”? A She doesn’t know what time track practice is over. B She forgot to time herself in a race. C Because of MS, she’s not sure how long she will be able to keep racing. D She lost her watch.
3. In the first paragraph on page 5,
the word sensation means _____. A numbness C illness B feeling D memory
4. Which phrase from the text helps
the reader understand the meaning of the word sensation? A “really painful tingling” B “Kayla . . . then 14, was playing soccer” C “she first noticed the problems” D “Something was wrong.”
5. Kayla decided not to spend her
time worrying about how her MS would develop because _____. A she was too busy to think about it B it would make her feel beaten by MS C her mom told her not to worry D she thought that worrying would make her get sick
6. Which statement does the
text support? A Kayla is the best runner in the U.S. B Kayla’s doctor doesn’t think it’s a good idea for her to run. C Kayla runs 50 miles each week. D Exercise is harmful to people with MS.
Use a separate sheet of paper to answer the following questions.
7. What are some ways that having MS has affected Kayla? Write down at least two TANYA ODOM
examples from the text.
8. Based on the article, do you think it is a good idea for Kayla to continue running? Explain why or why not. Use information from the text to support your answer.