A young Kelly Elmlinger and her three siblings grew up in Attica Ohio, playing basketball in high school and participating in all state competitions for cross-county, track and field. After seeing footage on Operation Desert Storm and consulting with her cousins who had served in the forces, Elmlinger decided to join the army.
Seeking a more hands-on experience, Elmlinger became a medic with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After serving on two different deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, she decided to be a nurse at Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio in order to work with wounded warriors.
How Her Struggle Began
In the past two years, Army Captain, Kelly Elmlinger has certainly suffered some setbacks. Firstly, in 2013, she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue tumor on her lower leg. This medical condition caused the army medic, who was enlisted on Veterans Day, to undergo 9 separate surgeries to remove the tumors. Despite going through this traumatizing period, the Ohio native was focused on keeping her family happy.
Elmlinger spoke to military.com disclosing her determination to be a mom to her daughter despite going through removal of tendons, muscles and bones that rendered her unable to walk or run competitively. She asserted that her daughter Jayden is her inspiration and a reason for her to set new goals every day.
Her Participation In Wheelchair Races
While recovering, Elmlinger learnt about the Fort Sam Houston Warrior Transition Battalion’s Soldier Adaptive Reconditioning Program and began her athletic training. Although using prosthetics, which could allow her to walk, Elmlinger could not run. Consequently, she resulted to train on wheelchair racing through the Texas Regional Paralympics Sport.
Currently, Elmlinger participates in wheelchair races at a professional level. At first, it was not easy because it was something she didn’t like at first sight and her own parents didn’t know what to expect of her new-found passion. Her determination and competitive spirit led her to compete in the 2014 Warrior Games where she was the only woman. Even after earning multiple silver and gold medals, her humble nature and focus was evident. For her, participating in the competition was deeper than winning. It was simply about the people who supported her to her current status.
Her Eye On The Boston Marathon
After hours of weekly training and winning several medals in just one year, Elmlinger decided to pursue her life-long dream of competing in the Boston marathon. Her 10-minute try-out was a success and she is now qualified to participate in the elite race in April 2016. This current development on her career has not stopped her from training for future competitions as she seeks to engage deeper in her passion.
Elmlinger has also returned to work and is currently on her 5th Month working at the San Antonio Military Medical Center , since she was declared fit to return to work.
Captain Kelly Elmlinger is a perfect definition of strong will, determination and optimism. Cancer diagnosis should not be a reason for anyone to give back on life or stop chasing their dreams.