Graduating MSU senior pushes past life’s obstacles

MURRAY – Any college student has likely faced plenty of challenges on their path to graduation, but not many have had the kinds of obstacles Sydney Kessler has. As she prepares for commencement ceremonies at Murray State University this Saturday, though, her life story is a reminder that a disability does not need to stop anyone from achieving their most ambitious goals.

Kessler, 23, is a senior from Louisville, and she said a freak accident on a soccer field in 2019 left her paralyzed from the waist down.

“It was April 8; it was kind of toward the end of the spring semester of my freshman year,” Kessler said. “It had rained the day before, and (some on) the day of. I was just running, playing in an intramural soccer game, and it was muddy, so I just fell and slipped in the mud. Then when I fell, I just kind of twisted the wrong way. I had previous spine surgeries (due to scoliosis), and so that previous history plus just falling the wrong way (led to the injury). I couldn’t feel or move anything when I was on the field, and I knew something was not right.”

After the accident, Kessler spent two weeks in Louisville’s Norton Hospital before spending the month after that at the Frazier Rehab Institute. In rehab, she had to learn how to sit up in bed, how to transfer from a chair to a wheelchair and how to navigate it, as well as opening doors and other everyday tasks that were no longer easy. As an athletic 19-year-old, losing the ability to use her legs made her extremely sa