Super Seniors: Ted and Rachel McKnight

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT
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JEFFERSONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Three days a week Ted and Rachel McKnight are on the move.

"I want to ride every chance I get," Rachel said.

They’re riding the Lamoille Rail Trail in Jeffersonville on their custom-made tandem bike.

"It's fun," Rachel said.

"That's the one thing about biking, you really get to see some beautiful countryside," Ted said.

Riding in tandem requires teamwork and being in sync. A quality needed exactly a decade ago when Rachel was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. AML is a fast-growing blood cancer.

"And the only solution is a stem cell transplant from a perfect match," Ted explained.

It was the only way Rachel would survive. Thankfully, her brother Peter was a perfect match.

"That's one thing I like about her, good attitude about life," Ted said.

Of course, Rachel survived and she had a new lease on life. But it would be short-lived. A year later, Rachel was back in the hospital.

"I had a hemorrhagic stroke," she said.

"That night, the first doctor came and said, he didn't give me any hope," Ted recalled.

The doctors relieved blood on the brain.

"She was in the ICU for 21 days sedated," Ted said.

With great relief, Rachel made it. But then came the hard part.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Did you loose speech at all?

Rachel McKnight: Oh, yeah!

Years of intensive therapy, including singing, made it easier for her to communicate.

"And I got better and better talking," she said.

She lost the use of her right arm and leg. However, the couple had always been active so exercise became therapy.

"I think this is good for Rachel's mental health, gives her a chance to be really active, get outside, fresh air and socialize," Ted said.

"I agree with Ted. It's good for my mental health and I'm happier when I'm riding," Rachel said.

Not only do the McKnights love to bike, they kayak and in the wintertime, they ski. It’s a way to connect their mind, body and soul.

"I believe the Lord didn't want to take me, that he knew the importance of my life here on earth," Rachel said.

Close friends and riding partners Charlie and Dottie Windisch put it succinctly.

"She just had an unbelievable recovery in my book," Charlie said.

"Sometimes married people split apart because of the stroke... but... I kept him," Rachel laughed.

"It's a mutual thing here; you got to make it work to make it happen," Ted said.

Biking in unison and in life.

And another reason to celebrate. Thursday Ted turned 76. Happy birthday, Ted!

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