Athlete ‘invigorated’ by wheelchair sports

In 1976, Ken Kelly's life changed in an instant. Kelly was a teacher in northern Alberta when he was involved in a gun shot accident.

Victoria resident Ken Kelly sailed on the Canadian sailing team.

In 1976, Ken Kelly’s life changed in an instant.

Kelly was a teacher in northern Alberta when he was involved in a gun shot accident, which resulted in a bullet being lodged in his spine. He was paralyzed from the chest down.

“It’s pretty hard to imagine that your life could change in an instant like that,” said the now 72-year-old Victoria resident, who is trying to raise awareness this week about wheelchair sports.

After the accident, Kelly spent a year-and-a-half in denial. He convinced himself his paralysis was temporary and would eventually go away and he could go back to his normal life again. He worked hard to find a cure so he could walk again, even turning to holistic medicine to try and cure his paralysis. A once avid athlete, Kelly gave up sports.

The accident took a toll on his family life as well. A father to two young children, his wife left shortly after and Kelly moved back with his parents in Saskatoon.

But it was at a wheelchair sports annual general meeting that he stumbled upon that reinvigorated Kelly’s passion for sports and life.

At the meeting, a man shared his story of being paralyzed after a night of drinking while in northern Saskatchewan. The man said it was the best thing that ever happened to him, he got involved with wheelchair sports and turned his life around.

“It invigorated me to become more involved in sports,” Kelly said of the man’s story.

“It just got me into an environment where I met other people with the same sorts of life issues and realized that there was a lot more to life than I ever imagined there could be, just with friendships and optimism and looking forward to what could be accomplished with effort.”

Since then, Kelly has taken up a number of wheelchair sports, including basketball and tennis, and most recently, sailing.

After joining a disabled sailing association in B.C., he began racing competitively, even qualifying with the team that went to the Paralympic Games in 1996. As part of the Canadian sailing team, he also had the opportunity to travel to dozens of places including North America, Europe, China and Australia to compete over the past 20 years.

“With sailing, you interact with people of all disabilities and able-bodied people as well. It’s been the most rewarding of all the sports,” said Kelly, adding he enjoys the camaraderie between people on the boat and those he’s racing against.

“With sailing, you throw away your wheelchair and get in a boat and just go racing.”

This week marks the second annual OneAbility and ProMotion Week, which celebrates inclusive sport and physical activity in Victoria.

Hosted by the Victoria Wheelchair Sports Club and OneAbility, an organization that enhances adapted sport and physical activity landscape in Greater Victoria, the week included a number of drop-in sport demonstrations.

It’s an event that has become important to Kelly as a way of spreading the word about the affect sports can have on one’s life.

There are a variety of free drop-in programs that continue this week at various locations around Victoria, including wheelchair tennis, basketball, rugby, blind soccer and an exercise chair class. There will also be a ProMotion open house on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (4371 Interurban Rd.) for those interested in learning more about adapted sport and physical activity. For more information visit oneability.ca.

 

 

Just Posted

Songhees youth among those recognized by province for achievement in sport

Team BC athletes in North American Indigenous Games, Canada Summer Games recognized

Pedestrian struck in downtown Sidney after receiving safety reflector

Man treated for minor injures by police who were at the scene handing out reflectors

Wait is over for Willows students

École Willows portables complete - students moved in Monday

Write about Oak Bay to win $500

Winner earns cash and placement in the Oak Bay News

Victoria’s cannabis shops mapped out

The News offers an interactive look the city’s marijuana dispensaries

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Ikea relaunches dresser recall after eighth child dies

Recall is for all Ikea chest and dressers and include 8 million Malm chest and dressers that were sold from 2002 through June 2016.

UPDATE: Washington Governor Jay Inslee visits B.C.

Premier John Horgan talks trains, trade with southern neighbour

Viral video shows deer killed on Snapchat in Campbell River

RCMP say they have identified those involved and are working with conservation officers

BC Conservatives call for ICBC reform

Leader Scott Anderson of Vernon calls ICBC ‘national embarrassment

Vic High students take Saanich-reared comic’s words on mental illness to heart

School counsellors see uptick in visits after Kevin Breel relays his depression story

Vigil held for woman whose remains were found on Shuswap farm

Family and friends remember Vernon resident Traci Genereaux and along with five other missing women

Brewers create anti-fascist ale

Not For Nazis Nut Brown Ale made in the Shuswap will be ready in time for Christmas

Most Read