Nearly three years ago, Megan Silcott woke up to a nightmare: she was paralyzed. All her dreams were dashed.
At 16, the Maryland high school student went to bed one night not feeling well, and in the morning she couldn’t move. She hadn’t realized she had contracted mononucleosis and that her infection led to acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, a disease that attacked her brain and spine.
The long-term prognosis of the rare autoimmune disorder was positive, but getting back to full function would involve time and tremendous work. Her mother, Jen told her GoFundMe supporters that doctors told them her recovery would be “tough, and at times unbearable.”
Megan spent weeks at Johns Hopkins Hospital and had months of rehabilitation at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore before finally going home and beginning what doctors called a marathon recovery.
Two years later, her mother writes, “Megan attends outpatient therapy, massage therapy, (has) botox injections, workout sessions, pool therapy, acupuncture AND practices at-home exercises for movement stimulation and strength building.”
But the disease and the “marathon” of recovery have not stopped the now-18-year-old from pursuing her dreams of modeling, acting or having a career in fashion.
Once unable to move from the neck down and breathing on a ventilator in, Megan Silcott was able to walk a fashion runway in February. With the aid of a walker, Megan took the runway by storm, one careful step at a time.
Designer Nina Perdomo told Good Morning America she asked Megan to model her clothing, because she “design[s] for a woman that is strong and knows what she wants from life, and I feel like Megan is the perfect example of that.’”
Even getting a taste of her dream was a challenge. Her face showed her focus and determination with each steady step.
When she finished her turn down the runway, the entire room gave her a standing ovation.
“‘It just goes to show that anything is possible and if you put your mind to it, it can get done,’” Megan says.
Megan’s mom happily reports “Megan is able to walk with a walker or crutches, go up and down the stairs with assistance, and shower on her own … four things that remained uncertain and almost impossible for months.”
For now, Megan and her family look to the bright side and hope Megan’s story can inspire others to “appreciate the simpler things in life” and appreciate “the immense power of being relentless and fighting the odds in (the) face of struggle and fear.”
Megan Silcott received treatment at a Children’s Miracle Network hospital, where thousands of other young people are working hard every day to overcome everything from common childhood afflictions like asthma and broken bones, to the bigger challenges like birth defects or cancer. You can help them by donating at CMNHospitals.org.