Megan Silcott, an 18-year-old from Maryland who was paralyzed from the neck down by a rare illness, impressed and inspired spectators when she walked the length of the runway using a walker when the Art Institutes opened its Fall 2015 show at New York Fashion Week.
Silcott made her debut wearing yellow trousers and a colorblock sweater and vest designed by Nina Perdomo and received a standing ovation when she completed her walk. She made another appearance at the end of the show when Perdomo pushed her along the runway in a wheelchair.
Silcott awoke on August 16, 2012 and discovered that she was paralyzed. She was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, a rare neurological disorder.
ADEM severely impacts 1 in 250,000 people every year and is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Silcott was unaware that she had a silent case of mononucleosis. ADEM causes intense inflammation in the brain and spinal cord and damages the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers. The body’s immune response also causes demyelination, a process in which myelin is stripped off.
Silcott’s prognosis was a 100 percent recovery because she was young and in good health prior to her illness. She has been undergoing extensive physical and mental therapy since then and is now able to walk with the assistance of a walker and to complete many everyday tasks independently. She is determined to fully recover from her illness and wants to pursue a career in acting or fashion.
Patrick Rummerfield, the first quadriplegic paralyzed by a spinal cord injury to recover full physical mobility, co-founded the Iron Hope charity. He has had a long relationship with the Art Institutes and helped to cover the cost of Silcott’s trip to New York.
Silcott needs an FES RT 300 rehabilitation therapy bike to regain full strength and movement. The bike is not covered by insurance, so her family is trying to raise the $15,000 needed through a GoFundMe page.
Megan Silcott has confronted a frightening illness and has shown incredible strength and determination to regain her mobility. Her resilience and courage to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week make her an inspiration to us all.