My name is Kelli O'Donnell, a counselor working with those of all ages struggling with mental health diagnoses, sexuality stressors, and/or those who just need a helping hand in their day to day lives. I spent my undergraduate years at Buffalo State College studying psychology and playing division III soccer. My graduate years were spent at Daemen Univeristy studying the practice of social work.
The world of running is very new to me as this is my first half marathon! Of course, I signed up for the Mighty Niagara in hopes to develop a new passion / hobby and to transform myself into the best person I can be, both physically and mentally but, the reason I am raising money for Hospice is much deeper than myself.
I lost my dad to colon cancer back in 2015 and hospice was there every step of the way. Each and every staff member that I had interactions with were blessings, truly angels in disguise. I never got the chance to truly thank them for everything they did; for the comfort, the peace, and the kindness they were able to provide to my dad in his last days of life. Who would have thought I would be given the opportunity to give back, the opportunity to show my ever lasting gratitude and the opportunity to finally say thank you to Hospice only 8 years later.
My dad was a jack of all trades; he was in the Air Force, a substitute teacher, a member of the Buffalo News, an amazing husband, a selfless father and more importantly an avid runner. My dad was disciplined, putting 100% effort into EVERYTHING that he did. If he was going to do something, he was going to be damn good at it. Like father like daughter, that drive is in me and that drive is what has drawn me to so effortlessly take on this challenge of running 13.1 miles knowing it by no means will be easy. I will run the Mighty Niagara half marathon on September 30th knowing that my dad will be looking over me every single stride I take closer to that finish line.
I would like to thank all who took the time to have read my story and especially, all who have contributed to a truly special cause that I hold close in my heart.