Today, we’re excited to share with you the story of Misty Piker, CompactCath user and brand ambassador — a tremendously strong and inspiring woman with Transverse Myelitis, a rare neurogenic autoimmune disease that attacks the spinal cord.
Hailing from the small town of Bedford Indiana, Misty was always active with a passion to help others. Growing up in a military family and being constantly on the move—living in Europe, Maryland, Virginia, and Indiana—entrusted her with a love of travel as well as a love for people. She was heavily involved with the Children’s Ministry at Granger Community Church, sports, and was (and still is!) an avid fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
All her life, Misty had a dream to serve in the military and become a law enforcement officer. Unfortunately, a knee injury kept her from the military, so she started her studies at Vincennes University where she majored in Law Enforcement.
At age 26, just weeks before she was due to start at the Law Enforcement Academy, Misty was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (TM), a rare neurological condition that causes inflammation of the spinal cord, and was ultimately paralyzed from the waist down in 2010. Though sudden and unexpected, Misty didn’t let this diagnosis get in the way of pursuing what she loved: ministry and giving back to the community.
Learning to live with a disability and adjusting to life in a chair took some time getting used to. Two years after she was paralyzed, Misty relocated to South Bend, Indiana, which she credits as “the move that changed everything for [her].” It was in South Bend that she discovered the amazing adaptive sports community.
Shortly after moving to South Bend, she joined the River City Rollers Wheelchair Basketball and River City Sled Rovers Sled Hockey teams, and received “so much support and encouragement from [her] teammates. The support, community, camaraderie is really special,” she says. “My teammates are of all ages, and come from all walks of life. It’s really inspiring to be part of this community.”
Growing up extremely active, Misty was a natural at wheelchair basketball and sled hockey, quickly becoming the team’s full time goaltender in record time. She is now training with the hopes to someday make the US Women’s National Sled Hockey Team.
Though Misty is now retired from the Law Enforcement profession, but continues to give back to the community by volunteering at the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department; helping plan and organize special events.
As an individual who’s personally seen how the power of sports and community can be used to heal and enhance one’s quality of life, Misty is now focused completely on supporting other adaptive athletes. She is now President of the River City Rollers Wheelchair Basketball Team, and has dedicated her time and resources to the River City Challenged Athletes Foundation in South Bend.
“We are working on growing the adaptive sports network in our local community, helping challenged athletes thrive through sports, community, and mentorship. I’m currently working on starting a wheelchair tennis team in the South Bend area, and helping to continue to grow our adaptive sports that are available in South Bend and the Greater Michiana area.”
In addition, Misty speaks to school-age children about living with a disability and teaches them about adaptive sports by traveling to schools in her community and running adaptive physical education workshops. The program is a hit with all the students, and is a cause Misty truly believes in as “it teaches children how they should treat others who have different abilities than them.”
Misty was also able to find some solace with CompactCath, which allows her to live an active, mobile life without the bulk. “I enjoy it so much, it’s so easy. Since they’re so compact, instead of packing a heavy bag at the back of my chair, I can just throw a whole bunch in a small messenger bag and just go.”
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Misty! All of us at CompactCath are inspired by your strength and attitude and we’re glad we can help.
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