Sydney Kessler, 20, learned to lean into faith when her world fell apart April 8, 2019.
That day, she slipped on mud during an intramural soccer game. She landed flat on the ground and felt sharp excruciating pain in her back.
She could not move her legs.
Sydney knew she was hurt, but believed it was temporary. Doctors diagnosed her injury as spinal shock.
A year later, she gets around in a wheelchair but believes she will walk again—that trauma to her spine will heal.
Her mother, Debbi Kessler, believes one day Sydney’s legs will catch up with the miracle God has already done in her life.
In the last year, not much has unfolded as Sydney planned. She has every right to question God, but she doesn’t.
“This is another temporary setback,” Sydney said. “I know God has been working through every single thing in my life. He has been faithful. I do not doubt He will be faithful through this.”
Courage may be in her DNA. Sydney is a quadruplet raised by a single mom who never felt sorry for herself.
“I’m not too tolerant of ‘poor me,’” Debbi said. “I have the firm belief that no matter what you’re handed, you get a positive lesson.”
Of course, there were challenges growing up. When she was 10, Sydney had rods put in her back to stabilize her spine curved by scoliosis. Now those rods make it difficult for doctors to see trauma to the spine. Everyday challenges fed Sydney’s determination to face life head on.
She joined Southeast Christian Church in high school and earned a full scholarship to Murray State University as a Governor’s Scholar.
A year before Sydney hurt her back, her brother Matt had surgery for a brain tumor, followed by a year of rehab. He, too, persevered through challenges to return to college.
Sydney spent Easter 2019 in the hospital. Still in pain and unable to stand, she was putting in long hours in physical therapy and taking online classes to keep up with her goal of graduating on time.
In January, Sydney was thrilled to move back on campus. It gave her daily contact with close friends and professors, but that was short-lived.
A month later, she had to move back home after her campus was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. She doesn’t see it as one setback after another.
“I’ve learned in the last year that life doesn’t always go my way,” she said. “While I’m extremely bummed about this situation, I know it’s for the better. I’m positive. I’m still fighting.”