ATLANTA - Mistie Butler's journey to the gym starts on a MARTA mobility bus. Her physical disability keeps her from driving and her mother, who works, isn't always available to take her. So, Mistie pays $8 a day to get to the Atlanta Sports Complex, a gym located just a few blocks from her southeast Atlanta home.
"I work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday for an hour each day. You can make a bunch of excuses or you can just try hard to do what you thought you couldn't do," the 29-year-old told FOX 5.
Devic's Disease, a condition similar to Multiple Sclerosis, started attacking Mistie's body when she was a sophomore at the University of West Georgia. She was just 20 years old when she started feeling numb below the waist.
"It effected everything. My legs, my back..everything was numb. It caused lesions on my brain."
The disease also targeted her auto-immune system, forcing her to rely on a wheel chair and move back home with her mother.
"I couldn't work, I couldn't drive, there were so many things I couldn't do anymore. It was frustrating and I felt sorry for myself at first, But then I realized, I couldn't just sit around on a couch doing nothing for the rest of my life. So I decided I had to do something so that I could build my strength and walk again," Butler said from her gym on Gresham Road.
Butler wasn't able to get insurance to cover physical therapy, she called her local gym.Tamir Chester agreed to work with her on her mission to walk again.
"Her will power is just amazing. She says she's gonna do it and then just just does it. If it's too hard, she modifies the exercise. But she never gives up. So we're just gonna work it out until she walks again," Chester said.
Even her mother started working out when she saw Mistie's determination to fight such a crippling disease.
"It gives me strength and courage to see her trying so hard to walk again. It's what motivated me to start coming to the gym when I can.
Mistie's fitness philosophy is simple: don't make excuses.
"Life is always gonna throw you curve balls. Use that curve ball as a motivator to push through. You gotta keep going. You just gotta keep pushing. I know I'm going to walk again," Mistie said with a smile.