Cynthia Brown didn’t know if she could walk again after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and left paralyzed from the neck down. She attempted physical therapy but the costs became too much to handle.
“I started going out on the internet and I really didn’t find anything,” Brown said in a video documenting her progress. “But there, I did find [Karen Cheng’s] website Dance in A Year.”
Brown found inspiration in a video Cheng made, which documents her learning to dance in a year.
"I was just aware of how much repetition and practice had gone into it and, at that time, I was really struggling myself to maintain my practice, but I could see the payoff was there," she said. "Watching Karen's dance video I was like, 'Oh come one, give it a try. You can do it.'"
Brown is using the dancing video to motivate herself to learn to walk and she’s publishing her progress online with daily video entries.
She said it helps her to see her progress and allows her to be "not so judgmental."
In the videos, she is seen doing leg exercises, walking with canes or walkers, and even meditating.
“It did just early on occur to me, ‘Cynthia, you are alive, so you’re going to have to live,’” Brown said in the video.
And Cheng was inspired by Brown's efforts.
“I got an email one day from someone I didn’t know… it was Cynthia,” Cheng said in the video. “She had seen my dance video and she saw that practice pays off. And so I asked her to start taking videos of herself too, just 10 seconds a day, every day.”
"The fact that you can put out a two-minute video and have it touch so much people's lives is kind of nuts," Cheng said. "I found her story to be just extraordinary."
The site has already gained hundreds of participants hoping to learn something in 100 days, and Brown, now on day 71, continues to improve.
"I just feel very excited and very open to the idea that anything can happen and the possibilities for recovery are still there," she said. "Anything is possible."
On day 66, she is seen taking several steps on her own, and in others, she uses walls or a walker.
Brown said she can now stand, get out of bed on her own, walk with a quad cane and go outside with a quad cane.
“I’m very proud to be a part of the 100 days project,” she said in her video on day 69. “It’s exciting.”