RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — From being an avid runner to needing assistance walking — one diagnosis changed Andrea Peet’s life forever.
”After that race, I was tripping over my toes. The physical therapist said, ‘Your muscles just don’t seem strong enough for someone who did that long of a race,'” said Peet.
She saw five neurologists before being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2014.
When doctors told her there is no cure for the disease, it was a shock to her and her husband.
“You don’t realize how much you have until its gone,” said Peet.
According to the ALS Association, the life expectancy of a person with the disease averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, and right now Peet is beating the odds.
“If I only had 2 years to live I needed to make it count,” said Peet.
And that’s what she’s doing every day. She’s made it her mission to remain as independent as possible and even continues her passion for racing.
This time in a wheelchair.
Now she wants to help others do the same.
Peet has been working with the ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI) and Google to develop an app for people with speech impediments from conditions like ALS or down syndrome.
The app is called “Project Euphonia” and the technology works much like Siri or Alexa.
Peet speaks into her phone, and the app does the work for her. Whether it’s cutting the lights on or off, playing music, or turning the heat up, Peet never has to get up from her seat.
“For me, with mobility issues, this is a huge time saver and helps me maintain my independence,” said Peet.
This app could mean the same thing for thousands of people battling ALS in the United States, according to the ALS TDI.
“I’ve recorded 4,000 phrases. Seeing it come to the phone and actually seeing how helpful it really is, is really cool,” said Peet when asked what has been the most rewarding moment after helping with this research for five years.
The software is not available to the general public yet, but when it is Peet says this will be a game-changer for anyone with a demobilizing illness.
Peet is not giving up on her passion for running, she says she wants to be the first person with ALS to run a marathon in all 50 states.
Right now she’s completed races in 14 of them and is working on a documentary to track her journey.