For several years, Koerner Gray Buchta, a 20-year-old man from Grand Rapids, has battled an illness that’s commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Myalgic Encephalomyalitis (often abbreviated to ME/CFS).
There is no known cure for ME/CFS. The illness is difficult to manage because there is no consistently effective treatment.
Koerner says he started to feel symptoms when he was about 12 years old. Things continued to get worse until he was in 9th grade and he had to drop out of school.
Current community-based surveys estimate that over 800,000 U.S. adults have the illness, yet only about 10-20% have been diagnosed. It took four years for Koerner and his family to finally find a diagnosis.
Koerner says that he feels more physically capable than he did two or three years ago. And so he decided to do what he could to help raise awareness of the disease.
The plan: Walk across the state of Michigan – from Detroit to Holland – to raise money for the CFIDS Association of America (the largest advocacy and research organization for ME/CFS patients in the United States).
Stateside caught up with Koerner on the road about two months into his trip.
Koerner says he doesn’t want to give the impression that everyone with this illness could do something like this. Eighty-eight percent of people with ME/CFS do not experience any remission of symptoms.
He says making this walk has forced him to develop an attitude of acceptance. Koerner says the most enriching part has been living in acknowledgement of his limitations, but not in submission to them.
To donate to Walk Across Michigan for CFS or to follow Koerner’s progress, please click here.