WARWICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — At one time in Allie Wiseman’s life, lifting her legs was impossible. Now, it’s where she finds her strength.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported, Wiseman appears typical for her age, but her path in life has been anything but.
She made her transformation in a converted fabrication plant.
“A lot of people tell me that. They’re like ‘you’re so tiny, how are you lifting all that?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know,” she said.
The tiny athlete used to be underestimated, but her small stature belies her raw power.
Allie is one of the strongest women in America — she competes in the clean and jerk.
“You make sure for the jerk that you have your drive, because the drive is going to help you land better. So I go down, and then you you put your feet together,” she explained.
This year, for the first time ever in the USA Weightlifting Championships, female competitors had the men outnumbered. Allie made it all the way to the Junior Nationals Weightlifting Championships — an amazing achievement considering she thought she may never walk again.
“They said if I didn’t come in soon enough, I probably would’ve been paralyzed, and it kinda freaked me out a little bit,” she said.
She had been diagnosed with transverse mylitas, a neurological disorder in the spine. Most victims end up paralyzed, unable to walk.
“It was scary hearing because they told me I could have been paralyzed,” she said.
She refused to have a ‘victim mentality.’
“In the beginning, like in the hospital, I was horrified because I was just so upset, overwhelmed finding out that this happened to me, and that when I went home the next week out of the hospital I would say I felt bad for myself a little bit. I wasn’t myself for a few weeks. I was unhappy. I was frustrated,” she said.
For the past year and a half she’s worked her way out of the hospital bed, and back into shape.
“I had the choice of just sitting in my bed and feeling bad for myself or getting my strength back and I just started coming to the gym and I was doing back squats with like 20 lbs,” she said.
Since staring down paralysis, she has never been stronger.
“Just the fact that I was in that bed, maybe not being able to walk again if they like, if they didn’t see it soon enough, it’s insane, especially for the weight that I’m lifting. I mean there’s girls lifting more weight, but I’m proud of myself,” she said.
After coming so close to losing what we all take for granted she was inspired to rise to new heights, and leave others with a message of empowerment.
Allie said her doctors have given her a clean bill of health, and are confident that her quick recovery means the rare disorder won’t reappear.
She’s currently training for her next event in June and hoping to qualify for the American open in December.