Invictus Profile: Kelly Scanlan

Corporal Kelly Scanlan plays wheelchair tennis, in preparation for the Invictus games.
Corporal Kelly Scanlan trains for the upcoming Invictus games.

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Adapting, overcoming, and soldiering on are all familiar action verbs for Kelly Scanlan. Kelly, a corporal with the Canadian Army, recently adjusted her future career plans to a ‘Plan B’ after injury and operational stress from her military deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 blocked her initial ‘Plan A’.

Kelly was originally injured when she was 18 years old, during pre-deployment training in preparation for her overseas tour. The injury worsened while she was deployed to Afghanistan and required surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation after she returned to Canada.

“My whole family are police officers. So, I thought that I was going to work to become a police officer, too. But, after I was injured, that plan was derailed,” explains the 26-year-old from Milton, Ontario.

Several years later, Kelly’s Army reserve unit relocated. That change of address had her thinking of other possibilities.

“My unit, the Toronto Scottish Regiment – 75th Company out of Mississauga, Ontario moved into a multi-department facility that housed a fire department. I got to see what firefighters did, the skills they had, and the strong bonds and camaraderie among them. All of that really made me want to join their team – to become a firefighter,” says Kelly.

While her doctors considered her goal to join a fire department unrealistic, Kelly chose to overcome her limitations. With the help of Soldier On, the Canadian Armed Forces’ program behind the team headed to the Invictus Games in Toronto, September 23 – 30, 2017, Kelly used sport to rehabilitate and gained a new career path in the process.

Since its inception in 2007, Soldier On has dispersed more than $5 million, helping more than 3200 Veterans and serving military members who have sustained physical injuries, mental illnesses, or a combination of both. The program provides sporting and recreational equipment, access to trainers and instructors, and supports members in a wide range of structured activities from alpine skiing to fishing and adventure expeditions. Soldier On also sent teams to the London, England (2014) and Orlando, Florida (2016) Invictus Games.

“After several months of training, in preparation for the Invictus Games, I noticing big changes in my physical and mental health. I decided to take on previous goals that I thought my injuries would have kept me from pursuing. Through the training, I felt stronger and ready to take on new challenges,” says Kelly, who applied to the Milton Fire Department. After passing numerous testing stages, she was hired as part of their 2017 recruit class.

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