At 15 years of age, Taylor Hill will not allow her degenerative nerve disease to steal her dreams. She loves karting and the freedom it provides.
“We knew nothing about CMT before Taylor’s diagnosis and she was only diagnosed at the age of nine years old. She has been with specialists, doing physio and occupational therapy from the age of four months and does physio and OT twice a week to keep her in top condition so she can drive two to three times a week for fitness,” says dad, Leon.
“She was always keen to try anything, and with great enthusiasm. Taylor has always had a never-give-up attitude and ‘can’t’ is not a word in her vocabulary,” he says.
“Motorsport means everything to Taylor. It gives her a sense of being free from her disability when she’s on the track. Driving at speed brings the biggest smile to her face. Taylor has really found purpose in motorsport; she is motivated to live each day to the fullest,” Leon says.
Taylor’s walking is impeded, and she cannot walk long distances for example. She needs to wear leg braces to be able to walk and stand and CMT affects her balance. She has severe muscle weakness in her legs and ankles, and no feeling in her feet and the position of her feet. She also uses a wheelchair as she has scoliosis and wears a back brace daily,” says Leon.
Despite the above, her ambition is to be a professional racing driver one day so one can easily imagine the family’s delight when Motorsport South Africa (MSA) reached out to Taylor, opening a whole new world of possibilities for the determined teen.
Adrian Scholtz, CEO of MSA, says that MSA found Taylor’s story truly humbling and felt the need to try and support her involvement in the sport wherever possible. This led to Taylor being given the role of pace kart driver for many of the races for the entry level junior class of karting. From time to time, fun races have also been arranged with able-bodied moms and sisters on race days and Taylor regularly manages to lap the whole field.
Scholtz says, “The participants and crowd are amazed of how well she can drive with her disability”.
Elaborating on how Taylor navigates her thrill for speed with the physical limitations of her disability, Leon explains that since she has no feeling in her feet and the position of her feet Taylor relies on hearing and the rev counter for where she is on the throttle and brake.
There are plans afoot to get Taylor into main circuit driving and, with added protection she should be able to race.
“I feel very special and privileged to be able to be involved with this sport and want to encourage others with similar disabilities never to give up on their dreams. Your mind is truly your most powerful tool,” says Taylor.
And if you are a young girl like Taylor that loves the thrill of the sport her advice is “to get involved sooner than later. Don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done. I am living testament to follow your dreams,” says Taylor.
Source: Cathy Findley PR