I remember the first time I thought there was something extraordinary about my friend Kelley. It was a couple of years after I became friends with her and Julie Munger while working on the SF American river. Kelley had left California to work for Sobek on the first year of their operation on the Zambezi in Africa. Someone came back with footage from that first exploratory year on the Zambezi and was showing it at one of the regular guide’s Sunday night “un-wind” at Yosum’s pizza.
The footage starts rolling with a wide frame view of one of the rapids on the Zambezi at very high water. I had been on my share of big volume water, but the magnitude of what was displayed on the screen was truly impressive. The frame is filled with a mass of roiling and boiling, muddy brown, monster sized waves, hydraulics, and eddies lines. The magnitude of the whitewater is given perspective by a little bitty looking object that is floating towards the top of the rapids at the very top of the frame. As the camera zooms in it brings into focus an 18’ raft with two passengers sitting in the front, and Kelley standing up at the oars, slowing rowing towards the V. As the current starts to pick up, Kelley starts pushing into the oars with all her might. She is not just rowing now…. She is attacking! By the time she hits the first wave she is rowing forward at a pace that is truly remarkable. The monster waves crash over the raft from all sides, but Kelley stays on her feet, punching her fists into the oars over and over again.
The cheers from the crowd mixed with my own, as we all voiced our appreciation for the strength, courage, and mastery Kelley displayed rowing through the most gigantic whitewater most of us had ever seen. It was inspirational.
Well I am once again inspired. After a truly miserable winter, recovering from her discouraging accident which left her with two fractured femurs, she is now heading into the V again. She is taking charge of her life and moving forward. As she has shared in recent blogs, she will soon be entering a rehab program at a facility called Project Walk, that specializes in aggressive rehab for spinal cord injuries. She knows the program she will be put on will be hard and painful, but her recovery from the fractures, along with her small continued improvements in lower body motor function are encouraging. And she continues to show the rest of us the way…… when entering the gaping maw of the challenges in your life…. keep your eye on the V, “stand up”, and keep up the attack! Just like Kelley. Sue