Woman who has CMT encourages others by participating on MDA Team Momentum

MDA Team Momentum For Ava Illingsowrth there are no barriers. There are no obstacles. For her, challenges are just opportunities to defy limits.

Ava is a runner with the MDA’s Team Momentum, MDA’s endurance training team that helps people train for half or full marathons while supporting kids and adults living with muscular dystrophy.

Ava herself is one of those adults.

She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease or CMT. It’s a neurological disorder which damages the nerves that carry signals to the muscles of the arms and legs, causing muscle weakness, stiff, painful joints, and a host of other challenges.

“When I was first diagnosed and learned exactly what CMT is it explained a lot about my falling and physical issues I experienced in the past,” she says.

But Ava hasn’t let her diagnosis stop her.MDA Team Momentum

She’s run almost two dozen 5K races and one 10K over the past two years. So when she heard about Team Momentum back in May, she was hooked immediately.

“Since muscular dystrophy is close to my heart and my family, it wasn’t even a question about joining the team,” she says.

In fact, Ava was so excited about Team Momentum that she drove two hours from Delaware to Washington, D.C. in one morning to participate in an hour-long training run.

“They are all so supportive and encouraging,” she says of her Team Momentum teammates. “I am so proud being involved in this team.”

Her teammates aren’t her only support. Her husband is her cheerleader and her son joins her on runs — while playing PokemonGo, of course. He can now run a whole three miles.

“I want my son to be proud of me — seeing what his mother can accomplish — to teach him that there are no barriers,” she says.

And Ava has done just that, having most recently participated in the 10K at the Marine Corps Marathon.

Though admitting the course offered its own set of challenges, Ava could not help but feel overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm she experienced during the event, especially from her MDA Team Momentum running coach and teammates as well as her son and husband.

MDA Team Momentum

In the new year, Ava offers advice to both runners and non runners alike as they plan to tackle their 2017 goals.

“Stay strong. Don’t let others tell you, ‘You can’t,'” Ava says. “’Can’t’ isn’t a word. It’s ‘I can,’ but I may do things differently to get the job done.”

Join MDA Team Momentum and help MDA families live longer and grow stronger!