VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WTKR)- Thomas Hicks is one of the nearly one million Americans battling multiple sclerosis.
"They don't know how long I'll be able to walk," Hicks said of his prognosis. "I'm going to go blind, which I am blind in my left eye. I went blind four years ago and I'm going blind in my right eye."
Thomas has been dealing with the condition since 2008. At times, he might have trouble just getting out of bed. Back in 2014, he endured through a stroke and a seizure. Sometimes a cane or a walker might be necessary to help him keep his balance, but MS is not stopping the Virginia Beach resident from pounding the pavement, lacing up his shoes as a distance runner.
"I struggle everyday," Thomas noted. "When I go for a run, it's the only time I feel normal."
Thomas excelled as a distance runner through high school and early college. Now he uses the activity as an escape from a disabling disease, running almost daily. He'll use a stroller to keep his balance and as the miles add up, he notices his strength doing the same.
"I wouldn't be where I'm at today without running," he predicted. "I'd probably be in a wheelchair like the doctors said I would be. It just makes me stronger."
It also seems to have made him faster. Within the last year, Thomas has set personal best times in the 5K, 8K and 10K distances. His greatest achievement, however, came at the Shamrock Marathon back in March, running the 26.2 miles in under three hours.
"2:55, I still can't believe I ran that quick with all the stuff I have to go through."
Thomas is 50 years old and is fighting a battle within his body everyday. Despite his adversity, he continues to stare the odds in the face and overcome them one step at a time.
"I don't take no for an answer," he proclaimed. "If somebody says 'you can't do this, you can't do that,' I'm just going to try it anyway and do it and just continue to do it. Just keep it up. Don't give up."
Thomas is the president of the Tidewater Striders, a Hampton Roads running group for all ages. In 2021, the Road Runners Club of America named him its President of the Year.