PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you walk Portland’s waterfront regularly, chances are, you’ve seen her there walking.
“I say hi to everyone.”
Andie Proskus is hard to miss and impossible to forget.
“Some people just stare, they don’t know what to say.”
Andie has myopathy, a form of muscular dystrophy. But she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she loves.
“I don’t let anything stop me. No matter if it’s down pouring, hailing outside. I’ll be out here,” Andie told KOIN 6 News. “There’s a lot of people who would just make up some excuse to not get out or get going, for me it doesn’t matter if I’m tired or in some kind of pain, I put that all aside and I still get out there and go.”
Andie’s disease weakens her muscles. The 21-year-old was diagnosed her sophomore year of high school, but slowly, the disease has robbed her of her independence. It’s taken a toll on her ability to lift things, stand on her own, swallow and walk.
“Whether I’m walking here at the waterfront or I’m being pushed in my chair, those are the times I’m at my happiest point and my disability disappears during that time,” said Andie.
She’s been able to walk across the finish line of ten local races. But about a year ago, doctors told her she couldn’t race anymore. She posted her devastating news on a local Facebook running group, which inspired Stefanie Carulli.
“Seeing her say that she wouldn’t be able to do it again was just, it was heartbreaking,” Carulli said.
That’s when the Beaverton mom offered to help push Andie in almost a dozen races.
“Our first race last year was the July 4th Freedomthon.”
From that, the Facebook group ‘Andie’s Army’ was formed.
“I see it every day the inspiration she brings to people. I’m not talking a group of people, I’m talking hundreds, maybe even thousands, that she inspires on a regular basis. She’s amazing. She’s a shining star,” said Carulli.
But even as Andie’s muscles weaken, her drive to keep going gets stronger. And her goals more daunting.
“I’m very determined, some of my friends say I can be a little stubborn.”
She completed one of those goals this past summer: Walking Terwilliger Hill. 2.5 miles. All uphill.
Shortly after finishing the Terwilliger challenge, she set a new goal.
“Next I want to do the Portland Marathon. Then I have to think up a new goal to conquer.”
She’ll be out there Sunday, along with her army, proving where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“It’s important to live each day happy and chasing for whatever your dreams are.”