Meet Elias Walker
I don't want to see others held back by their health challenges either. I can use my health setbacks to help others.
A year into my chemotherapy, I contracted Guillain Barre Syndrome. No one knows the culprit, the monthly chemotherapy drugs injected into my spine, the flu shot, or just unlucky.
Everything hurt. Walking hurt. Shoes hurt. Back to the hospital for 2 months for IgG infusions and twice-daily physical therapy. During those 2 months, I learned to sit, use a wheelchair, kneel, and stand. It took another 6 months to learn to walk with braces and a walker. A year later, I was walking again on my own. I was still angry. I was four.
I took my last chemotherapy pill on December 6, 2010, with family and friends.
In fourth grade, my teacher realized that I was falling behind. I was sent for testing and diagnosed with short-term memory loss from the chemotherapy. I started weekly cognitive therapy to obtain the tools I would need to succeed.
In 9th grade, I joined the cross-country team. I have always been competitive. It turns out that when I learned to walk again at age 4, not a lot of care was taken to what that looked like.
Running was very difficult and painful. My hips hurt. My feet hurt. But I showed up to every practice and ran in every meet for 4 years. In the fall of 2020, I was getting slower, and everything hurt more. Back to the specialists for a new French diagnosis: Charcot Marie Tooth Disorder.
My feet were not growing properly. “Top 10 highest arches,” the surgeon said. In October of 2020, I had cavus foot surgery on the left foot and 6 weeks later, surgery on the right. I was desperately trying to heal by the 2021 Cross Country season. I made it back in time to letter in cross country. I never ran with the varsity team, but I always did my best. I ran my first half marathon in December 2021 and my first marathon in February 2022! Tums out I’m better at the long distances. My strength is my stamina, overcoming, and pushing through. Imagine that.
I don’t want to see others held back by their health challenges either. I can use my health setbacks to help others. I will be attending Utah State University in the fall and studying biomedical engineering. I want to design prosthetics. This scholarship will allow me to help everyone cross whichever finish line challenges them.