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Meet Abbie McNeely: Athlete of the Week

(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Sports have the power to completely change someone’s life. For 13-year-old Abbie McNeely, that rings true.

At a very young age, Abbie began having seizures, which left her mother Holly searching for answers.

“We found out through the seizures…she has a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis,” said Holly McNeely, Abbie’s mother.

Around the age of three, Abbie stopped walking and doctors said they didn’t know if she would be able to walk again. From there, Abbie received more diagnoses and began learning to live with other nerve and joint issues.

In 2021, the mother-daughter duo discovered the Special Olympics, which completely transformed their lives.

“It was just like that minute of ‘Oh my word, we’ve finally found our people’ because we had spent all these years feeling a little alone and lost because she wasn’t a typical kid having special needs,” Holly said.

Abbie started by trying individual swimming lessons, since it’s one of the low-impact sports, and she was immunocompromised with COVID still lingering.

“Swimming is my favorite because, well, I’m the fastest at swimming and I’m really good at it,” Abbie said.

From being told she might never walk again, to now actively participating in three or four sports at a time, Abbie truly is a living miracle!

“She’s still dealing with the same health issues, but we know what we’re facing now, so it’s much easier to give her support early on, instead of letting things get worse before giving her the treatment she needs,” said Holly McNeely.

Abbie attends Village Middle School, where she has come a long way in knowing how to read and write, but it is the joy of sports that keeps her active and fulfilled.