Just months before her first half iron-man competition, Jamesville mom Jill Walsh was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
However, the physical and neurological changes to Walsh’s everyday life have not put the brakes on her journey to Rio for 2016 Paralympics.
Two days a week, every week, you’ll find the 52-year-old para-cyclist and her trainer Ed Ten Eyck in “the cage” at Gold’s Gym in DeWitt.
Walsh isn’t just there to get in shape— she’s there getting ready for Rio to participate in the 2016 Paralympics for Team USA.
She has always been active and willing to challenge herself. When she decided to take on her first half Ironman five years ago, she knew something was different.
“I noticed I had these bouts of dizziness and the doctor and I thought that it was an inner-ear infection or a sinus infection, but I had a bunch of testing and it took many months and then finally, they ordered an MRI and they saw lesions on the brain,” Walsh said.
The diagnosis: multiple sclerosis.
“There will never be a cure in my lifetime, I don’t think. It’s just something chronic that you have to deal with,” Walsh said.
But Walsh has done more than just “deal with” MS. After switching to a three-wheel bike to help her balance, she quickly rose to the top. She’s now a regular on the podium for the USA Para-cycling team.
“I traveled all over and it was an amazing summer. Now, I have two kids in college and one who worked away all summer, so really in my life, the timing was perfect that I could actually get away. My husband came out to Switzerland to see me and I won the road race and the world championship. I still can’t even believe that I did that,” Walsh said.
Her trainer said, “an Olympian or a Paralympian, in my book it doesn’t matter because (of) the amount of work you have to put in. it’s not like you can just wake up and do it.”
And she’s ready to work even harder for a shot at the gold medal.
“You have a Team USA uniform and you’re standing on the podium and you see our flag go up and then you hear our national anthem. I’m crying up there. It’s an amazing experience and not a lot of people get to feel that. I can’t even imagine on the world stage at a Paralympic games how that would feel,” Walsh said.
This week Walsh will learn if she has secured her spot on Team USA.