Patrick Kelley: Against the Odds - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report--

Patrick Kelley: Against the Odds

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May 17, 2004

Albany-- It takes a special young man to turn tragedy into a great success story.  Tonight we are going to show you how Patrick Kelley overcame one of life's toughest challenges in our special report "Against the Odds."

The first thing you notice about Patrick Kelley is his smile. A happy, carefree 18-year-old, the smile it seems is always there. And it seems whenever you see Patrick, he is with friends.

 Kevin Fortenbery said "There is nothing not to like about Patrick." And he is an honor student at Deerfield Windsor. A very normal, all-American teenager.

Only later might you notice that he wears a prosthetic right leg. Patrick's mother Maguarite Kelley says "That was the miracle in all of this. That he survived." On June 6, 1999 at Lake Blackshear, at a church youth outing, Patrick's leg was cut by the prop on a boat motor.

Patrick said, "I don't remember much. The boat drifting back toward me, and then hitting me."

Patrick came very close to death. He spent 47 days in a Macon hospital. Underwent nearly a dozen surgeries, and then eight months of painful therapy at home.

Patrick's father, Pat, says "To know what he went through, he is an inspiration to me everyday."

Today without a thought, Patrick wears shorts most of the time. His leg lets him wear normal tennis shoes. He drives a car without handicap equipment. "I drive with my left leg. So you just do a contortion act. It's not too bad. Better than walking. No doubt."

When it's lunchtime, you'll find him pulling into the Quickie, his your favorite place to eat.

Many of Patrick's closest friends were with him on the church outing when he was hurt. And they stuck with him through the long recovery.

Margarite Kelley said "Even two hours away, his friends came to visit him. And they lifted his spirit."

Haley Hudson said "We stuck together."

Pat Kelley said "He never got down, never said why me." Patrick said "I got past the 'why me' question. There is no answer to that one."

Patrick Kelley's faith is seen in his life, and inspires those around him. Beau Turpin said "He is my hero."

Carolyn Barnhill said "Whenever things are bad, he sees the silver lining in everything. You see what he has overcome, and you know you can handle little problems." 

Throwing a football with his little brothers is just one of the normal things for Patrick. Pat Kelley said "He is quick to tell me he can handle it. I don't show him any special privileges. He takes his turn cutting grass or washing the dishes just like everyone."

Beau Turpin said, "He is an inspiration to me, everyday." 

Patrick graduated from high school Sunday, and soon will head to college.  "I think business is interesting, but I don't know what I want to do."

 Margarite said "I can't wait to see what he ends up doing. I know he will be a success."

"He always says he wants to be the President of the United States one day, and I think he will," said Carolyn Barnhill.

 A young man who has already proved himself against all odds, you know Patrick will go far.

Patrick Kelley has been accepted to the University of Georgia, and will start classes in Athens this summer.

posted at 5:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com