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Gabrielle "Gabe" Ford has a debilitating disease called Friedriech's Ataxia, or FA.
FA basically makes your muscles so weak it's near impossible to walk.
But that didn't stop Gabe from trying to walk across the stage for her high school graduation.
During that walk across the stage… she fell.
And many students started laughing.
This sounds like the world's worst high school. We can't imagine what this poor girl had to go through.
After falling in front of the entire school, she became a hermit, rarely leaving her room.
Until she got a new friend. A friend that wouldn't judge her, wouldn't laugh at her, would never leave her side, staying loyal to the end.
Her dog Izzy.
In an ironic twist of fate, Izzy ended up having a similar degenerative muscular disease.
She said Izzy was a big reason that helped her to get out of the house, she said:
"I was 100 percent responsible for my dog, so I had no choice but to go out since I loved Izzy so much and had to go to the vet frequently. Izzy was my furry daughter."
With Izzy as her pillar, she found she was able to go out and speak on behalf of the thousands of bullied school children.
"Izzy by my side made me feel like no one could hurt me. She got all the attention and kids didn’t laugh at me or care that I was in a wheel chair; I felt accepted."
So now she travels all over the country, delivering her message of tolerance and possibly saving lives. An anonymous student posted on her website after her visit:
"Your story basically saved my life. Early this week, I was thinking of ending my life… You showed me that life is what you make it and that it can/will get better. You have given me such a hope and a will to see my bright future. Thank you so much for speaking to us and may you continue spreading your inspiration across the US, across the world. You are a true hero."
Gabe has been spreading her message for a while, and still continues to do so, even after the lost of her best friend, her strength, her dog Izzy.
"She will be buried with me someday."
Izzy's epitaph reads:
"To the world you might be one dog, but to one person you might be the world."
Izzy's legacy lives on, in Gabe's message, and her strength.
She is a true hero.
"Please don’t be afraid to approach me because I am in a wheelchair, I am just like everyone else, I just can’t walk."
If only there were more people like her in the world…
[Image courtesy Gabe & Izzy.]