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From the Heart: Andie Proskus

Andie_Proskus_ShamrockAndie Proskus discovered she had a muscular disease her sophomore year at Beaverton High School. What started with her hunching over, turned out to be a neuromuscular disease that made walking painfully difficult. A weakening of the muscles, also known as myopathy, left Andie relying on a walker and powerchair to get around. Doctors did what they could, including a surgery that placed pins and rods in her back to help limit the forward hunch. She was told she wouldn’t walk again- a lot to accept while most kids are worried about an acne breakout or who they want to invite to the school dance.

Not only did Andie prove them wrong and walk again, but she’s now added some popular Portland events to her accomplishments. She joined some online running groups for inspiration and, after getting a new specialized walker, started walking. Though she still experiences pain, she pushes through it with a smile on her face to the finish line. Her first race was Heartbreaker 5k and, since then, she’s done a couple more 5ks, an 8k and even a 10k, all with sheer determination. She hopes to add a couple of half marathons to her list as well.  Her next event: Race for the Roses 5k. Her supporters have a blog covering her journey at Andie’s Army.

Andie at Heartbreaker 5k

Andie at the Heartbreaker 5k

While this young woman inspired me for her spirit and determination to never stop, it was what she does off the pavement that really touched me. After experiencing firsthand the challenges of extended hospital stays, Andie decided to do something about it. With her own money and gift cards she received, she put together a box of goodies to surprise a young patient at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Since then, she’s provided over 70 boxes to sick children who really need something to smile about. Smile Boxes from Andie include all sorts of fun things for the kids and are personally decorated by Andie. She also volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House and continues to turn negative experiences into positive ones.

Smile Boxes from Andie

Smile Boxes from Andie

Just like her hospital experience prompted her to start her smile boxes, her experience with bullying pushed her to do something about it. After being bullied at school and online, she started a Facebook group to raise awareness and note how frequently it still occurs, not just for her, but others with disabilities as well.  Stand Up to Bullying encourages those who have been bullied to stand up, speak up and put an end to bullying. Once again, making a positive out of crushing, hurtful situations, this young lady amazes me.

This determined young woman has brought smiles to many sick children, encouraged bullying victims to stand up to bullies and proven that she can do anything she sets her mind to. Instead of listening to people who said she’d never walk again, she proved that she could. Instead of being bullied, she started a support group. Even with pain and self-doubt, she has proven she can finish a 5k and more.Andie_Kids_Running_For_Kids

This woman still has dreams and goals, even with her impressive list of accomplishments. She wants to be on The Ellen Degeneres Show to talk about bullying and her smile boxes, and hopes to one day work for a non-profit company.  For a girl who has gone from not being able to walk, to planning a half marathon in May, I think she’s right. Anything is possible. Until then, I’ll continue to be inspired with a young lady that pushes through pain, refuses to take no for an answer and is doing her part making this world a better place.

 

“There are no excuses, if I can do it, anyone can do it”  ~  Andie Proskus

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About Teresa Wymetalek (264 Articles)
I love anything and everything related to health and fitness! I teach group exercise and do small group personal training when I'm not cleaning up after or shuttling three boys around. I run to to clear my mind, keep my sanity and stay connected with friends. I'm still working on teaching our dog, Autzen, proper running etiquette. Half Marathons and Triathlons are my favorite events and I watch a whole lot of soccer.

9 Comments on From the Heart: Andie Proskus

  1. Wow, she’s amazing!

  2. That she is. I am one of her direct supporters, that set up the website of andiesarmy.org, and have been on part of her walk down here in Eugene, and on the full walks with her in Hillsboro and Portland. (My feet were blistered and hurting (improper footwear for such walks) after the Luckython 10k on 3/15, followed by the 38th Annual Shamrock 8k on 3/16, but that pain was well worth it!) AND as long as her body will allow it, she is DETERMINED to make these walks, despite the concerns by her mother. So, if you have a desire to help support her in getting into some of these events, and/or walk with her, especially on Sunday’s, as I won’t always be available to attend, it would be much appreciated.

  3. Great article T….. Thanks for sharing her story.

  4. An amazing young woman! She inspires people so much on Meg’s Miles Supporters on Facebook as well. Such a rare exceptional person!!

  5. Teresa Wymetalek // April 4, 2014 at 9:20 AM // Reply

    Thanks, Jenn! She really is an amazing young lady and I can’t wait to walk an event with her!

  6. Claudia Wallace // May 5, 2014 at 9:58 PM // Reply

    I have known Andie for several years, she is a trouper and a sweetheart! Very nice article on a very special young lady!

    • I saw her at the Cinco de Mayo race in Portland this weekend. She was doing the 5k and was looking strong! I stopped and chatted for a few minutes. So excited to hear that she is doing her first half this year!

  7. Bill Blanton // May 16, 2014 at 11:12 PM // Reply

    Andie really is a very special young lady.

  8. Beautiful Andie! We love you!

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Andie's Army | Run Oregon Blog Interview
  2. Race Recap: Sicko de Matto at the 2014 Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon | Run Oregon

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