Otsego Swimmer overcomes the odds

Otsego Swimmer overcomes the odds

OTSEGO (WTOL) - Sometimes in life, we can lose perspective of what’s important. Sometimes in sports, we do the same.

Abby Gase is a sophomore at Otsego High School, and despite the challenge’s life has thrown her way, she’s remained positive and has become one heck of an athlete.

As you watch Abby Gase walk in to the natatorium, you’d never know all that she can do in the pool. Her journey to this point has been anything but easy.

“I have transverse myelitis,” said Gase. “It is a rare autoimmune disorder, in which there are lesions on my spine. When I was four, I got pneumonia and the antibodies in my system fought so hard against the pneumonia that they attacked the myelin sheaths on my spinal cord, leaving lesions on the spine and leaving my left leg partially paralyzed and my right leg partially paralyzed.”

Today, she glides through the pool with ease. But as a kid, her family could have never predicted she’d get to this point.

“It was very scary,” said her mom Mary. “I can honestly tell you, I hope no one ever has to go through it again. They had no clue what was the matter with her, and that is the scariest part.”

In swimming, the ability to kick is a crucial part of everything you do. For Gase, just like everything else in life, she’s found a way to adapt and overcome. Her family truly believes swimming is the thing that saved her. Being in the pool is the place she feels most comfortable.

“I just feel free,” said Gase. “I get in the water and everything just kinda goes away. I don’t think about anything but swimming.”

“It’s fun to watch her, but to be honest, we don’t really even think about it anymore,” said her mom. “There’s times I’m watching her swim, and I’m like ‘God, if that leg would work just a little bit it would help so much.”

Abby’s next venture might be her most important. She’s got a vision of getting adaptive sports to the OHSAA State Tournament, even if it doesn’t happen while she’s still in high school.

“Even if I’m not able to end up swimming at the state level, I know if the future there will be kids and other student-athletes swimming at the state level and I can say ‘yea I helped do that for them’” said Gase. “That will be a cool feeling if that ends up happening in the future.”

“I think of everything she does, that’s my proudest thing,” saidMary. “She doesn’t let anything stop her and she’ll figure out how to get this in there. I’m glad she realizes it might not be for her. But people fought really her to have the rights that she does in this country, and I’m glad that she’s seeing that and maybe helping the kids behind her.”

After that, Gase has more big plans. She’s getting set for the World Trials in Indianapolis in April with her eyes ultimately set on the Paralympic games in Tokyo in 2020. Getting to that point will be extremely difficult, but at this point, how can you possibly doubt her.

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