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Encinitas runner back in the action after diagnosis of a rare brain disease

CAF Michelle Pinard.png
Posted at 3:03 PM, Oct 06, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Encinitas resident Michelle Pinard says as a kid, she always loved to run. From marathons to half marathons, running was her passion.

"Running has always been my friend, my sidekick, and my release."

But following a marathon six years ago, Michelle says she felt something was off with her body.

"I was kicking myself and I was falling. My gate was off, and being a runner for 43 years, I knew my body."

It would take five years, and after a trip to the Mayo Clinic, she finally figured out what was wrong. She was diagnosed with a rare brain disease.

"I was diagnosed with something called Cerebellar Ataxia and that means the back part of your brain, the cerebellum, is shrinking. It's a rare genetic disease and there is no current cure."

It affected her movement, coordination, and balance. Unfortunately, it took away her ability to run

"That was really difficult to give up something I've been doing my whole life."

Despite her condition, Michelle says her legs are still strong, and she wanted to get back outside to be a part of an athletic community. That is when she was introduced to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

"They are throwing me on this bike, and putting a helmet on me and adjusting things. Then they pushed me out in the parking lot and I had tears of joy in my eyes."

Now she will be taking part in the 220 mile Challenged Athletes Million Dollar fund raising ride.

"I can continue an active lifestyle again, and being outside the wind in your hair the wind on your face and just being surrounded by amazing people is incredible."

Michelle kept a journal of her struggles over the last six years, and now she has decided to turn it into a book. It's called, "When the worst day in your life didn't kill you...and the morning after."

It will be released at the end of October.