Lily Brasch says she’s aiming to one day have March 6 declared Physical Independence Day nationwide or, maybe, even worldwide.
In the meantime, the 22-year-old physically challenged Orthodox Chicago resident plans to “climb her Everest,” in the form of Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain on March 6, during an event aptly named “My Everest.”
Brasch has centronuclear myopathy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy characterized by muscle weakness and atrophy, and was once predicted never to walk. She has been training to climb the Arizona mountain to send a message of overcoming physical challenges.
“It was a team decision to climb Camelback Mountain based on what my physical capabilities are right now and at the same time, be a challenge,” she said. “The message is that everyone has their level of struggle, and with support, they can overcome.”
Brasch’s Born to Prove (Foundation) team includes members within finance, event planning, marketing, fundraising and management, a spokesperson said.
Brasch says she’s seeking to become a universal voice for those who are perceived as different.
“I was born with muscular dystrophy, but due to a loving family (my abba is Dr. Joel Brasch) and strong Jewish Orthodox faith, I was able to overcome many obstacles (physically and emotionally),” her promotional material says. “In addition to creating the ‘Born to Prove’ Foundation, I am a film producer, motivational speaker and fitness competitor/exercise enthusiast.”
Brasch admits it was not easy to accept the physical limitations imposed by her condition.
“I struggled with my disability and with help from others, I was able to see my purpose,” she said.
Her passion now “is to inspire and motivate others to pursue their dreams … and refusing to be defined by one’s physical appearance, but rather by one’s contribution to society. It is my goal to become a unifier by using the story of faith and perseverance.”
Brasch is hoping many people will show up to her March 6 event, and she thinks some 50 are signed up already.
“We hope for more because the more people, the louder the message,” she said. “We hope people will see that we all have our own ‘Everests,’ our own struggles, and I believe that if we work together, we can overcome them.”
Brasch notes that overcoming looks different for each person.
“I was told I couldn’t walk, and now I’m climbing a mountain,” she said. “It means anyone can get past their barriers. It’s mind over matter, if we unite.”
Brasch’s Jewish upbringing informs just about everything she does and believes, including her approach to having a serious disability.
“My Jewish family, the Jewish community’s support and the lessons I was taught – that we each have a purpose and we live for reasons beyond ourselves,” she said. “It’s about our impact on others. God has a reason for everything.”
In five years, Brasch hopes she is still on the journey she’s bringing to Arizona.
“I hope to still be uplifting and empowering people to know their strengths,” she said. “And, maybe, speaking to millions, spreading the message on an even bigger mountain and making every March 6 a Physical Independence Day where we all come together to celebrate.” JN
Brasch invites anyone interested to join her in her “inspirational climb,” scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on March 6. For more information, visit borntoprove.com or diestrong.org/my-everest.