Friday, January 20, 2012

Inspiration, Dedication, Motivation – Paul & Sally Kelly

"Life with a disability is not a life filled with despair; it is a life filled with hope." -- Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly has committed his life to serving as an inspiration to others.  Having been a solid fixture with Team Hope For The Warriors® for several years and surely many to come, Paul brings his own disability to the table in his passion to support wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen. 
Paul’s story is nothing less than magical:
Thirty-two years ago, Paul's life changed forever when he broke his neck in a swimming pool accident. Determined not to let new life as a quadriplegic slow him down, Paul sought fitness activities to maintain an active lifestyle. 
The 31st Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in 2006 sparked his endurance and fundraising career.  Sitting in his wheelchair at the start of the marathon to cheer for his niece, he saw the sight that changed his life.  He had never seen handcyclists before, and there they were, lined up in the front of the pack.  Hand-crank wheelchairs allow those with limited limb mobility to participate in such races.  Hey, if these guys can do it, so could he!  A new goal had been set – to complete a MCM.
I wanted to use my disability and achievements as an inspiration to others.

 Not only was Paul going to learn to handcycle and compete, he hoped to do more by training and racing for charity.  Feeling a connection with his own disability to those who have been injured while defending our country, Paul knew exactly who to he wanted to help – combat wounded service members.  The combination of his athletic goals and desire to support and inspire others made Team Hope For The Warriors® his perfect fit.
I thought I might inspire others with my example, but over and over again, it was I who was inspired.
In his new adventure, Paul had the rare opportunity to race alongside world-class athletes, many with disabilities. Support from runners and other athletes poured in through his blog and along the race routes. One especially memorable moment occurred during the MCM when the cheers from other runners yelling Go Wheels! was at times deafening. At the finish line, announcer Rob Powers announced his finish with such emotion that Paul and many others were brought to tears.
Taking his mission another step further, he set a goal to reach 2008 miles on his handcycle through training, races and fundraising events.  Paul has long surpassed this goal, vowing then to go as far as it takes to fulfill his promise of $26,200 – $1,000 for every mile in a marathon.

Please find more on Paul’s Promise: 2008 Miles of Hope

These brave service men and women are our neighbors. They are our friends. All too often, they are our family. -- Sally Kelly

A notable deciding factor for Paul in choosing Hope For The Warriors® is our commitment not only service members but their families as well.  Having experienced a very similar situation to those injured in combat, Paul knows the impact on families and the value of their strength in the rehabilitation process.  
Paul & Sally

His wife, Sally, has gone above and beyond in dedicating her life to helping others: Sally is an active member of Beta Sigma Phi International, a non-academic sorority consisting of 200,000 women in 30 countries. Through service projects, Beta Sigma Phi’s members donate more than 200,000 hours and $3 million annually to charitable causes. Sally has spearheaded the project Carolinas’ Torch of Hope, organized to benefit Hope For The Warriors®. Through her leadership in Beta Sigma Phi, the North and South Carolina Chapters adopted Hope For The Warriors® as a state service project. 

People often ask if I'm a wounded veteran. I'm not a warrior; I am a grateful beneficiary of their sacrifices.

To date, Paul and Sally have raised over $22,000 in donations. It took Paul two years to achieve his initial goal of the Marine Corps Marathon.  And Team Kelly has not stopped since!  Paul has conquered several half and full marathons along the east coast and has no plans of slowing down.  It is their goal to spread hope and inspiration in each race and in everything they do.
We are honored that Paul and Sally Kelly have contributed their efforts to Hope For The Warriors® - certainly inspirational Team members that make it all worthwhile!  
Sally’s charity: Carolinas’ Torch of Hope
A MCM regular!

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