A Bicentennial Elementary student is helping her former teacher through Multiple Sclerosis.
Fifth grade student Katie Swofford and teacher Kirsten Fowler have been through a lot together. Swofford had Fowler for both the third and fourth grade. She saw Fowler battle through Multiple Sclerosis at the school in Coal Valley. Multiple Sclerosis disrupts the flow of information to the brain. That's why Swofford nominated Fowler for a My Favorite Teacher award, sponsored by Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (WIU-QC) and Blackhawk Bank and Trust.
"Sometimes she struggles, but she gets through it," Swofford said. "She shows me that I'm okay when I'm down. She comforts me, and I'm so proud of her."
Years ago, doctors told Fowler she should be done teaching by noon each day, so she could rest. She started using a manual wheelchair to move around. Fowler however, who used to work for the Admiral for the Navy Seals, learned how to be mentally strong by watching them.
"They have to have the muscle strength," Fowler said. "But they also have to have their minds, and these guys have learned so much about what your mind can do, and that's what helped, having that experience. I overcame those things by having the mindset that I could achieve what I needed to do."
Fowler uses the electric wheelchair to conserve her energy throughout the day, but she says she's very fortunate she can actually still walk.
"Am I completely exhausted and fried even more so than another teacher by the end of the week? Yeah, but that's the best feeling in the world," Fowler said. "I wouldn't do this ride any other way."
Because of the nomination, Swofford gets a goodie back from both Western Illinois University Quad Cities and Blackhawk Bank and Trust. Fowler gets a $50 Visa gift card from the bank, and a blanket for the university.