JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Amy Dotson is no stranger to a good challenge. And while her path through life is tough enough as it is, she said she wishes more resources were available locally to help her and others like her persevere.
Dotson is a disabled veteran from Jackson, Missouri who also suffers from multiple other illnesses. She served in the Air Force for 14 years until she decided to return home last year after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis.
"The national MS society has been great to connect me with other folks that have MS and to resources that might be able to help me as I navigate this new journey in my life," Dotson said.
Her path has been rough as of late to say the least. And while her future is forever changed, Dotson continues to fight.
"It completely changed your life," Dotson said. "I was in the military and was on course to have a very successful career and it put it to a screeching halt."
We caught up with Dotson at the Southeast Missouri MS walk on Sunday, April 17. She came, in her wheelchair, with her daughter Fiona and nephew Bobby. She was greeted by many and shared stories and plenty of smiles.
"This is a good way to kind of increase awareness about the problem with multiple sclerosis and also try to raise money for funds for more research and treatments and hopefully one day a cure," Dotson said.
The walk started shortly thereafter. She, along with many others, went around the track and walked in support of their cause. She seemed to struggle at times as she wheeled herself around lap after lap, but always kept a smile on her face.
While raising awareness for MS is only part of her goal, Dotson also wants to help other disabled people to be able to get out and experience life to the fullest.
"The first sport that I participated in that opened my eyes to everything was swimming," she said. "In the water, my body listens to me a lot better. It's almost like I'm back to the way I used to be."
Dotson has a passion for sports, but said there are not many resources for disabled adults in her area that offer such opportunities.
"It would be nice if I didn't have to drive the two hours to St. Louis to be able to practice some of these sports," Dotson said.
Whether it be conditioning, playing sports or finding personal help exercising, Dotson would like to see more opportunities for disabled people locally.
"It is frustrating," she said. "But I'm hoping maybe I can find a sense of purpose in this. Maybe the reason I moved back home and I'm encountering these challenges is maybe to bring some awareness. And maybe there is someone there to help set up some of those resources."
Regardless of the lack of resources in the area, Dotson continues to look forward and search for ways to better her lifestyle.
Dotson was invited to play in the Warrior Games, which are set to take place at U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York from June 14 through June 22. This is a competition hosted by the Department of Defense and dedicated to wounded veterans.
"At first I was taken back because who would think that I could do sports," Dotson said. "I have MS. I have trouble walking."
She plans on playing wheelchair basketball among other sports while participating at the event.
"I will be competing in wheelchair racing, swimming, sitting shot put, discus throw, competition air rifle, as well as cycling," Dotson said.
This is Dotson's fun; she likes to get out and do things that help her feel some normalcy in her life.
"I think it's important, especially for younger folks," Dotson said. "Life is going to throw you curve balls. You can't plan for everything but, no matter what you're dealing with, they're are tremendous opportunities out there."
Dotson hopes to encourage others to speak up and, hopefully one day, wants to see more ball fields and other resources in her area.
In the meantime, she hopes to inspire others to always aim high no matter what life throws their way.
"Just because you are dealt with a disability or have an accident or something catastrophic happens in your life, it doesn't mean your life is over," Dotson said.