Tichelle Florence is a walking, talking miracle — emphasis on walking.
Diagnosed at age 12 with Freidreich’s ataxia, a debilitating neuromuscular disease, she was told she wouldn’t leave her wheelchair once the disease forced her into it. That was six years ago. Today, the 26-year-old Covington woman is walking in kilometer-long fundraisers.
That is impressive. Incredible. Heroic. There aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary.
Florence’s is a story of inspiration, of willpower, of how nothing is really impossible. Nothing’s easy, either, but Florence hasn’t let that stop her. In January, she began training — hard — with Kellye Williams at Kellye Personal Fitness in Covington. She’d met Williams in the Covington Kroger parking lot, where the fitness trainer invited her to stop by the gym, for free, where she’d help all she could.
Williams said God spoke to her to help Florence. We believe her. It’s hard to explain Florence’s success in any other way.
She trains twice a week, throwing around a medicine ball, dragging heavy tires across the floor, and, of course, walking, leaving that dratted wheelchair behind.
She’s participated in two fundraising walks so far, the first rather short, the second a full kilometer. She did both on her feet, with her fiancé and Williams at her side in case she stumbled. She didn’t.
She’s now training for at least two more, including Covington’s Fuzz Run on Sept. 13.
Welcome to inspiration. This is what it feels like.
Florence admits she was depressed, deeply so, when she had to start using a wheelchair. She slept 16, maybe 17 hours a day. But after meeting Williams and realizing that, yes, she could indeed walk again, her life’s turned around. She plays with her daughter. She wants to take road trips. Life is worth living again.
If Florence can do it, so can you. So can we. Nobody’s immune from problems, emotional or physical. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a Kellye Williams come into our lives, but people like Williams are out there. Help is available. Friends can be made.
Florence is a special woman, no question. What she’s accomplished is nothing short of a miracle. Let her be an inspiration. If she can do it, if she can accomplish the impossible, so can you. So can we.