FALMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The miles Abbey Mitchell logs do a lot in her efforts to cut seconds off her cross-country races. All that legwork actually adds to her clock as well, as she was born with cystic fibrosis.
The senior at Falmouth High School has dealt with all the obstacles of the genetic disorder since she was 22 months old.
Approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. have cystic fibrosis, and those with the affliction live for a median of just 35 years.
To maximize her well-being Mitchell spends two hours daily on her medical/physical upkeep, which includes inhaling antibiotics and using an airway clearance vest to loosen up the mucus in her lungs, other forms of pills and medicine, which also involves inuslin shots and a very restrictive diet from her cystic fibrosis related diabetes.
On the suggestion of her mother Ramona, for a regular source of exercise, Abbey tried running in middle school.
"She didn't really like it. I think she even hated it," Ramona says.
Abbey in turn eventually grew to love it, "It hurts throughout, but feels incredible afterwards."
Her coach Daniel Paul was apprehensive at the beginning as he saw the toll it took on Abbey as a freshman, but when he became more familiar with her ailment and saw her improvements both physically and personally he was sold.
"I know how hard it was, but she said it was worth it to her to feel like she was one of the other kids," Paul says. That kind of persistence and determination was an eye-opener to her teammates.
"If I had the same problem, I probably wouldn't get out of bed," says fellow co-captiain Madeline Roberts.
Mitchell annually spends at least a week in the hospital, but there has been progress beyond personal records for his this cross-country season; for the first time in her high school career, she was able to compete in every single race.
Her mother is proud of how she's persevered when others would've stopped, saying, "It's really easy to quit and she never did. She kept on going. She used it as a motivation."
"It's fun to have successes, but this is the kind of success that's way beyond you know wins and losses," adds Ramona.
Mitchell also runs track for the Yachtsmen in the spring and competes in nordic skiing for the winter season, along with being a member of the National Honor Society.