Grandpa's Journey With ALS
In January 2009 my Grandpa, Richard "Dick" Kelley was diagnosed with the mysterious disease known as ALS. Although he had been having symptoms since May of 2006 doctors did not identify the problem as Lou Gehrig's disease until much later.
Despite his diagnosis Grandpa persevered - which is no surprise knowing the determination he so frequently displayed as a competitive athlete. An avid runner, biker and swimmer, Grandpa completed his first triathlon in 1985 and later received numerous awards winning his age group in at least 15 triathlons.
Some of his biggest achievements include placing 2nd overall in his age group in the North Carolina Series in 2002, then 3rd place in 2003, and winning the Virginia state championship for his age group in 2002.
Although I could never compete with Grandpa's personal bests, I am planning to try a tri in Grandpa's honor this spring. Grandpa highly recommended the Smith Mountain Lake triathlon and he would know, having completed the spring triathlon a whopping 6 times and the fall race 5 times.
True to character Grandpa has vowed he will try to do last hundred yards of each event with me.
CONTACT GRANDPA AT TWITTER.COM, TWITTER USER NAME: fre2tri.
Grandpa's philosophy is to live each day as the first day of the rest of your life. While his physical condition no longer will allow him to bike, run, or ski, he looks forward to each day as a new adventure in living with ALS. He enjoys going to lunch with friends, working out as best he can at the Roanoke YMCA, and telling stories about his unusual and sometimes humorous experiences in adjusting to the disease.
Grandpa also was as an accomplished telemark skier and skied expert runs at Snowshoe WV, Copper Mountain, Co, Arapahoe Basin Co and many other ski areas in the West.
During his career, he served as a Company Commander in Viet Nam with the 4th Infantry Division. Grandpa retired in 2005 after almost 25 years with the Roanoke City Public Schools as the Assistant Superintendent for Business.
Grandpa's favorite quote is from The Lord of the Rings movie - The Fellowship of the Ring. the scene starts with Frodo asking Gandalf why he was chosen to bear the burdens of The Ring:
Frodo: I wish none of this had happen.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.
Grandpa's hobby is model railroading. He has constructed a large HO scale layout in his basement using both American and German railroading equipment. Friends are invited to visit and operate the layout.
Grandpa's favorite movies include Lord of the Rings, Slumdog Millionaire, Napoleon Dynamite, Doctor Zhivago, and Brokeback Mountain.
His music favorites include Angels on the Moon (by Thriving Ivory), Forever Young (Alphaville), Impossible-Remix (Shout Out Louds), Human (The Killers),
Live Your Life (TI), and Soul Meets Body (Death Cab for Cutie). Grandpa and Grandma's song is More Than a Woman (BGs).
Grandpa's favorite restaurants are Subway. Aesy's, and The New Yorker.
Grandpa and Grandma have been devoted to each other for over 30 years, They have three children and three grandchildren. Grandma is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Ronald McDonald room at Roanoke's Carilion Memorial Hospital.
We love you Grandpa!
CARDINAL BICYCLE of Roanoke, VA and J.M. TURNER & CO., GENERAL CONTRACTORS of Roanoke, VA are Grandpa's major sponsors.
TRIATHLONS TO HONOR GRANDPA
Several of Grandpa's triathlon friends and training buddies will be racing in Grandpa's favorite triathlons in addition to my (granddaughter)racing in the May 2 SML Triathlon. The triathlons they will be racing in and the affiliated charity are:
ANGELS RACE, APRIL 26, LYNCHBURG, VA - SAM SCHNEIDER, ANGELS FOUNDATION
SML TRIATHLON, MAY 2, SML STATE PARK, VA, TRICIA GANGSTAD (GRANDDAUGHTER), ALS ASSOCIATION
BATH COUNTY, JUNE 20, LAKE MOWMAW, VA - JOHN COWDEN, ROANOKE RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
SCENIC MOUNTAIN, JULY 12, RICHWOOD, WV, JEFF ARMSTRONG, ALS ASSOCIATION
LAKE NORMAN, AUGUST 20, CORNELIUS, NC - JOHN GIOFFRE. LAKE NORMAN YMCA PROGRAMS
BIG LICK, SEPTEMBER 26, SML VA, JOHN GREGORY, ROANOKE YMCA PROGRAMS
LONGHORN, OCTOBER 25, AUSTIN, TX
TIM TARPLEY, TRICOWTON COACH
To register or volunter for one of these events go to: http://www.setupevents.com.
GRANDPA'S PARENTS' LETTER TO HIM
March 21, 2009
Dear Son, Dick:
We’ve had some thoughts we’d like to share with you. One is that at our age, you are likely to outlive us! (SMILE)
The real purpose of this letter and card is to reaffirm how proud we have always been of you. From your early school years up until you graduated from college, you have always excelled in your studies. We recall, for instance, you placing third in the State of Ohio in the History division. You graduated from University of Toledo with honors (suma cum laude).
As Assistant Superintendent on the School Board of the City of Roanoke, you were valued for how you over-saw its maintenance and repair of the school buses and also raised funds for new schools and the repairs to existing school buildings.
At age 60, you retired from the School Board with many commendations from the superintendent and city officials.
During the four and a half years you served in the Tank Division of the U. S. Army, fulfilling your obligation to the R.O.T.C.’s program on the U of T Campus, you served admirably; and here you were highly commended by the Army officers for work well done. And at that time they sent you to Florida State University to study computer science, resulting in a Master’s Degree. With this newly gained knowledge, they sent you to Vietnam as the company commander of a maintenance company.
When you married Carol Anne, we were very happy you chose as your wife such a sweet, loving, caring person. You also took on the responsibility of helping rear her two children, Teri and Brad (Jackie was already an adult and had a career as airplane pilot).
Dick you’ve also been a very good son to your elderly parents, sending money and gifts on various occasions. You were also good to your younger brother as he was growing up. Your two sisters were a bit of a “pain in the neck.” I do remember you brought them back souvenirs of your tours overseas.
Don’t Worry. Be Happy!!
Always in our hearts and prayers.
Mother and Dad
P.S. You always called me “Mother” never mom. I liked that!
Prayer from Church Worship on March 22, 2009
O God, the light of all the stars is but a pale glimmer in your vast ocean of Light. We praise you for mysteries we cannot comprehend; for your gracious gentle will working through everything that lives to form a holy people. Yours alone is the scope to comprehend how all our separate lives and desires cohere into a grand pattern, reflecting your design. O God, though we know little about your ways, work through us that your will be done, not ours; and that one day all the earth shall rise to praise your name and dwell forever in your Grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Message on Card Sent
We believe in the healing power of laughter, of love, of prayer…..
And today we’re hoping you’ll be able to relax and feel all the love, comfort, and strength within you and around you.
Thinking of you, Wishing you well.
Love and oxoxo’s
Mother and Dad