HOUSTON, Texas -- With triple-digit heat index values appearing to turn the track into a toaster, Jackson Minter is not only willing to work out - he's excited to just keep going.
"You only live once, and you only get certain opportunities one time," Minter, a recent graduate of Clear Lake High School, explained to ABC13.
Minter's opportunity is living and thriving despite a rare diagnosis for someone his age. While in intermediate school, Jackson had numbness in his face and tingling in his fingers and toes. At the age of 13, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"I still wasn't totally grasping what it did and how dangerous it was," Jackson recalled. "Also, at first - I didn't understand how rare it was for a young African-American."
Jackson's demographic and diagnosis are so rare that he's one of just 10,000 patients worldwide.
"The typical patient with MS is someone who's older, and it's usually a female," noted Dr. Nikita Malani Shukla of Texas Children's Hospital. "There is a small subset of patients who get multiple sclerosis in childhood. We say it's about three to five percent of patients."
Dr. Shukla is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children's Hospital who has been treating Jackson for years. Dr. Shukla credits him and his family for the early detection of his MS symptoms.
"The first thing I say to my patients is: we can't cure it, but we can definitely manage it and definitely make it to where you live a pretty much close to normal life," Dr. Shukla pointed out.
A driving force in that: the advancement, in just two decades, of medication to treat MS. During his first several years after diagnosis, Jackson took injections three times a week. He's recently shifted to an infusion medication administered just twice a year.
And next month, he'll head to West Virginia State University where he'll run track on scholarship and with MS.
"For me to be here now feels great," Jackson said, smiling. "I didn't let anybody tell me I couldn't, and I didn't let anything tell me I couldn't. I'm living proof that if you keep on going, you can get where you want to go."
Jackson Minter's motivation is to keep going - regardless of the hurdles or the heat in front of him.