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Jen Starzec, 22 years old, is a three-time published author, swimmer, writer, and college student.

Jennifer Starzec (born November 7, 1997) is one of the authors of the 5k Ballet trilogy.

When Jen was 13 years old, a searing pain suddenly spread through her neck and back one day. Over the course of a few hours, her left arm and hand gradually weakened, then her right arm went completely limp in seconds. By that evening, she had lost the ability to sit up or walk, as well. She was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a rare neuro-immune disorder that damages the spinal cord.

She quickly regained the ability to walk, and only about half a year later, she was able to begin running again, and was able to re-join Cross Country and Track her Freshman year of high school.

In 2014, she had a flare in symptoms which caused significant leg weakness again, and to date, she hasn't been able to recover fully from that. However, she has since discovered a love for swimming has done adaptive swim since 2016, which has led her to qualifying for and competing in the National Junior Disability Championships in 2018.

In 2012, Jen began writing her first memoir, 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury, with Sarah Todd Hammer. The book was published in 2013, which was later followed by a sequel, Determination, published in 2016. The final book in the trilogy, Up and Down, was published in 2018.

Jen has written for The Mighty, the Transverse Myelitis Association website, and her own blog ( She has a passion for advocating for those with all sorts of disabilities and tries to spread awareness and hope through writing. She is currently in her senior year of college working towards a degree in Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, and she aspires to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. 

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