Flesh-eating bacteria survivor overcomes obstacles, inspires others

A Gwinnett County woman simply doesn't have the words "I can't" in her vocabulary.

Cindy Martinez works out in a Dacula gym called Crossfit GOAT, which stands for "greatest of all time." Smiling among her fellow health enthusiasts, she has come a long way from where she was just over year ago. During Memorial Day weekend of 2015, what began as back pain ended with Martinez in an emergency room fighting for her life.

"They suspected I had Necrotising Faciitis," Martinez told FOX 5. "Which is known in the media as the flesh eating bacteria."

Between the disease and the medicine used to treat it, Martinez lost most of her right arm, her legs were amputated just below the knees and the fingers on her left hand were amputated half way.

After months of intensive physical and occupational therapy, Martinez was able to go home.

Sitting in a house while her husband worked and children went to school, was too sedate for her. She wanted her strength back and searched for a gym to get in shape. The coaches at Crossfit GOAT met with her one on one.

"I've worked with Adaptive Athletes before, but never to Cindy's level," said Amanda Greaver, co-owner of Crossfit GOAT.

Through brainstorming, advice from physical therapists at Shepherd Center and searching videos on the internet, a training program formed for Martinez. Gloves, Velcro and even chains help her lift and pull weights.

She's always been a fighter and even served in the Marine Corps a few years ago. She's says her core muscles are strengthening. Her balance is better and she is able to go much further now on her prosthetic legs, which is good because she now plans to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. this October.

Her prosthetic legs are not designed for long distance running, so she'll enter as an "Adaptive Athlete" riding a modified cycle and a partner to assist if needed. She says the Kyle Pease Foundation has helped her come up with the gear.

In return, Martinez and the crew at Crossfit GOAT are holding a fundraiser on Saturday, August 20. At 9 a.m. they will have a crossfit class followed by barbecue and socializing. (For more details, click here)

Martinez, a mother of two small children, hopes to inspire others with disabilities and wants to lead an active lifestyle for her family.

"I want to be able to do things with them and be active. I want them to see their mom as a positive influence and for them to still see me continuing to be strong."