By Kathy L. Collins
Recently, we reported on an inspirational young woman, Carla Kellum of Dover. Kellum had her right leg amputated in 2006. Despite what many would think of as adversity, Kellum ran in the 2013 Gasparilla Distance Classic 5k this past February.
Kellum was not ready to rest on her laurels from this one race. So, again despite what many would think of impossible obstacles, Kellum trained for and competed in the Dunedin Triathalon.
For Kellum, training would be an even bigger challenge because she first needed to learn how to swim! So, Kellum partnered with Holly Reilly, the Aquatics Director from the North Brandon Family YMCA. Both Kellum and Reilly participated in the triathalon.
In addition to all of this, Kellum was having some problems with her prosthesis, so she had many challenges with her training. Kellum said, “The bike was my biggest challenge. I only had three weeks to train to bike 12 miles!”
Kellum had decided not to tell anyone that she was an amputee. “It was important for me not to tell any of the triathalon staff about my amputation beforehand. I didn’t want to have an unfair advantage or special treatment. The category I was in by my age group,” explained Kellum.
According to Holly Reilly, Kellum is an inspiration to everyone. “If you want to do something bad enough, take the time and commit yourself to do it.” Reilly added, “When Carla and I were training, she was working, going to school and training at the YMCA during her free time. I had not even been exercising. She gave me the opportunity to do something I didn’t think I would ever do.”
Kellum said, “Doing both the 5k and the triathalon has changed my life. These races have helped me gain so much confidence in my abilities. I refuse to sit down and let my amputation take away my energy and spirit.”
Kellum is a member of the LIVESTRONG Program, a free 12 week program for cancer survivors.
For more information on the North Brandon Family YMCA and the LIVESTRONG Program, please visit www.tampaymca.org.