Athlete overcomes epilepsy and keeps running

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 21, 2020

Tina Collier was waiting for her daughters to get ready for school one morning when all of a sudden she heard a noise come from the girls’ bathroom.

Tina’s youngest daughter Abby (6th grade) went into the bathroom to see her older sister Kaylee (7th grade) on the floor following what would later be categorized as a grand mal seizure.

After a few doctor appointments it was determined Kaylee had epilepsy and the family’s way of life changed.

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Kaylee is a member of the Heritage Christian Academy cross country and track and field team.

She loves competing and proving herself against talented competition, so the diagnosis wasn’t going to stop her from continuing her training.

“We started out slowly and as soon as we were quarantined we began walking every day building and building. Then we began to let her run in small chunks,” Collier said.

Kaylee got a pair of blue tinted glasses to wear outside in order to hopefully prevent seizures due to flickering lights.

The glasses may be a hindrance, but they serve a purpose and they’ve slowly but surely allowed Kaylee to work her way back towards the level she was at prior to the first seizure in December.

Kaylee said that being able to train again was a relief, but there were still obstacles to overcome.

“I was happy, but I was also disappointed with the fact that I was going to have to build back up, that I couldn’t be the same way I was before the seizures,” Kaylee said.

Tina said Kaylee has the determination and will power to spend as much time as necessary to be the best at anything she puts her mind to.

The work ethic is there, but Tina has to make sure her daughter continues progressing in a safe, deliberate manner to try and avoid another seizure.

“She’s a very determined child. She thinks she should be running half marathons right now, but we have to make sure she doesn’t over do it,” Tina said.

Faith has always played a large role in the Collier household and that didn’t change after Kaylee’s diagnosis.

In fact, Tina said everything that’s happened with Kaylee and the generosity shown by the community and HCA has only strengthened her resolve.

“That’s just where we are. We wake up every day knowing we are blessed that she’s able to still run. I had to kind of put my mind there and had to realize that nothing is impossible with God,” Collier said.

Kaylee is now back in the swing of things with no limitations to the training she’s been doing with her fellow HCA athletes, while still maintaining social distancing over the past week.

She refuses to let her diagnosis define her, and instead continues to improve as she chases her dream of going to college on a track scholarship.

“Kaylee is extremely competitive. She thinks she can do anything and I’ve never told her otherwise. She puts her heart and soul into everything. She truly is a warrior,” Tina said.