1) im thankful i have legs.. not only to literally carry me through life, but to give myself the challenge of using the body God gave me to complete this mission. ive had the honor most of my adult life to work with those who are not as privileged as me both physically & mentally. more recently in my career, ive had the opportunity to provide individuals a chance to participate in athletic events they would ordinarily not be physically able to through an organization called myTeamTriumph. through use of adaptable running strollers, individuals with disabilities (“Captains”) are able to participate in real events (and even marathons & triathlons!) through able-bodied athletes from our community (“Angels”). as an Angel, you are the Captains “legs”. sadly, many people do not know the extent of people in their community with severe disabilities. this organization has done an amazing job of bringing light to this by bringing joy to these Captain’s lives & giving them the chance to participate in road races & cross finish lines. you cant help but notice the contagious spirit; because of this, volunteers in our community are more involved in these individuals lives. a fire ignited inside of me seeing how this organization serves this population in such a unique, amazing way. crossing a finish line – something i took for granted all my life until we’d actually crossed the finish line running my 1st race with a Captain. my career heavily involves me encouraging others to advocate for themselves; this organization inspired me to do something better with my life & how i choose to advocate for myself. im thankful for myTeamTriumph for starting a fire under my tush to get the #purpleproject going. i have done 5k’s, 10k’s & most recently, a half-marathon. Christian, Tiffany, Katie, Daniel, Jim.. the whole crew: thank you for helping others put their lives in perspective & honorably serving such an amazing population. thank you for inspiring me each day to reflect on how i can serve others better.
2) im thankful for support – i have an amazing support group to help me through some difficult tests life has given me. each of them provides me with a different type of encouragement or support that gives me hope to keep truckin in the hardest of times. im thankful for the big & little things these people continue to do for me on a daily basis. im thankful for an amazing organization, CCFA – Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, providing me support i needed at a very low time in my life. ive grown so much because of the encouragement i was provided & opportunities ive been given (Honored Hero @ Miller Park, filming an Aha Moment commercial, being involved with raising funds through Take Steps and Team Challenge.) the support i have received in the last 10 years since my diagnosis has been the reason i am now comfortable to talk about my conditions in public. there is no way a 20 yr old Kelly could openly talk about daily struggles of physical pain & also how much it can take a toll on your emotional health.. which leads me to #3
3) im thankful for my humor – years ago, it wasnt widely accepted to talk about a disease involving such personal details like someones restroom habits & my personal favorite, cameras up your butt! (do you know what the inside of yours looks like?) anyone who knows me, knows humor is my coping mechanism. im very much an introvert, but tend to deal with my anxieties with humor. i have a pretty sick sense of humor, but it doesnt take much to make me laugh. i am SO thankful i have not lost my laughter.
4) im thankful ive learned to advocate for myself, while helping others do the same – though my body has seen its fair share of setbacks, im extremely blessed. ive learned to accept that my life will continue to have its challenges. currently, there is no cure for the type of disease i have, but i know there will be a day im able to say “i used to have crohns”. without a positive attitude, there is no doubt in my mind i would lead a very bitter life of denial. what other choice do i have? there is nothing that affirms my life purpose more than when i get a message from a stranger living with Crohn’s or Colitis, especially the age i was diagnosed at. providing someone hope, courage & a new opportunity to change their disposition about their disease will help them accept things. its taken me almost 10 years to learn to accept the life i was blessed to be given & im still learning to accept it, especially on bad days.
5) im thankful for my faith – post-diagnosis, there are many stages you go through, just like mourning. i certainly have gone through stages of resentment in the past 10 years, selfishly asking “why me?” that stupid cliche “things happen for a reason… God places burdens on those who are able to carry the weight..” well, theyre true; it just depends on whether youre willing through that baggage over your shoulder & learn to adapt your life having it present. i choose hope because i know He is with me.
lastly, i am thankful for you.. my facebook, instagram, twitter & social media/blog family, who have made such an impact in my life & given me inspiration to continue this journey through a website. thank you for letting me be comfortable in my own skin. i am forever grateful. #thankful