Student with rare disease overcomes adversity with support of Indy high school

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– An Indianapolis high school student with a rare autoimmune disease is overcoming adversity with the support of her teachers and classmates.

Jacy Thomas is a freshman at Purdue Polytechnic High School who suffers with Myasthenia Gravis, a disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles.

“It attacks the signals my brain sends to my muscles; basically it creates weakness,” said Thomas. “It’s hard for me to walk.”

She said the disease affects the way she smiles, talks and even sees.

Thomas has to take medicine six times a day and receives intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) therapy every two months.

Before she was introduced to Purdue Polytechnic, she said she encountered struggles in schools that weren’t able to understand her disease.

“Some people look at it like, ‘You’re fine, get up, what’s wrong with you?’ But here, I’ve never had that issue which I’m super grateful for,” she said. “Here, I’m more accepted.”

Jacy Thomas and Demeita Vincent

Thomas said her instructors helped create a schedule to fit her needs and have been her biggest motivators.

“Coach Vincent has been my everything; so supportive and just understanding,” she said.

Demeita Vincent is an instructional coach at Purdue Polytechnic High School who has grown close to Thomas over the past year. Thomas said the staff at the high school treat her like family.

Jacy Thomas and Demeita Vincent

“We often talk about staying calm, not putting a lot of extra pressure and stress on ourselves,” said Vincent.  “So far, she has pushed through everything that has been asked and even gone above and beyond.”

Thomas is heavily involved with extracurricular activities at the high school. She is on the Robotics Team, the Language and Culture Club, Black Student Union, Girls Who Code and worked as the manager for the cheer team. She's also a volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and serves on the junior board for the Joseph Maley Foundation.

“She has so much to give to the world," said Vincent. "Her heart is just pure gold. I think anyone who comes in contact with her is truly going to receive a blessing.”

Thomas said she hopes to one day become a nurse practitioner to give back in honor of those who have supported her.

"I feel compassion is the best form of love and just giving them that hope is really great," she said.

Jacy Thomas