AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — They say when one door closes, another opens. It's a motto Danuta Kurtyko lives by.
"Life is a bunch of crossroads," the recent Sweet Home graduate said. "You have no idea what path life is going to lead you down."
When the COVID-19 Pandemic canceled her junior track and field season in the Spring of 2020, it was a tough pill to swallow. But rather than sit and feel sorry for herself, Kurtyko used that extra time to do something bigger -- train for the Air Force.
"I had to go to the gym, I had to start lifting some weights, do push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups," she said about her daily workout. "It was a new experience for me."
But her hard work paid off and she was accepted to the Air Force Academy in March of 2021, taking an unfortunate cancellation and turning it into a positive. She was all set to start her next adventure this past June before another bout of adversity changed everything.
The Air Force medically disqualified her for asthma. She was diagnosed when she was little but stopped having asthmatic symptoms when she was 11 years old. It was something she didn't think twice about.
"I never thought that once I'd get appointed, I wouldn't be able to attend this June," she said. "But I recognize that this is where I have to be. It wasn't meant to be for this year."
And it's that "everything happens for a reason" outlook that drives her to try again. She's going to the University at Buffalo this fall and plans to start training for the Coast Guard - a branch of service that may fit her even better. She says the physical test she needs to pass isn't as strict as the one for the Air Force.
"Hopefully I'll get appointed and waived for my asthma diagnosis," she explained. "I want to be a search and rescue pilot."
Two years of adversity that Kurtyko has overcome; staying positive, accepting a new challenge, and taking a new opportunity and running with it.
"The most important thing is to be determined, be persistent, and to keep a smile on your face," she said. "Keep positive and to do what you can, when you can, and hopefully succeed."