Kelly will take her Dozer on fun run

ABOVE: Kelly Griffiths and Dozer in the garden at her Casino home.

Susanna Freymark

Kelly Griffiths is ready to fall down during the fun run in Casino this Sunday.

“I ran cross country in high school,” she said.

“I took my mobility for granted then.”

But a brain injury five years ago affected Kelly’s mobility, vision and sometimes she slurs her words.

That hasn’t stopped her signing up for the Casino Fun Run.

“I will fall down. But I’d rather walk and fall down than not walk at all,” she said.

With her assistant dog Bulldozer by her side and a carer nearby, Kelly will be walking the 5km Casino Fun Run on Sunday.

She has been called stubborn. She prefers determined.

And determined she is. She might not make it the whole way, and she’s certain to fall down, but she’s sure to give it her best shot.

Her condition is called Chiari malformation – where part of the brain pushes down into the spinal canal.

She was 40 when she started getting severe headaches. Doctors told her it was migraines but the pressure in her brain was so bad she would sometimes black out.

The single mother of two had to have emergency brain surgery.

Her life changed.

“I didn’t realise some things would be permanent,” Kelly said.

“I still do things but I never know where the line is.

“Acceptance took a long time.”

Part of pushing herself is walking every day.

“I do it for my mental health and I’m in an online walking group.

“I tell them when I’ve walked a kilometre and they cheer me on.”

Her state of health is steady.

“It’s not going to get better.”

What keeps Kelly going is a sense of purpose.

Every Friday she volunteers at the Casino Soup Kitchen.

And she is going to be a dog trainer and specialise in training assistance dogs.

Dozer is a happy Labrador who enjoys walking through the walls of the house.

Floodwaters this year ruined the floors and lower walls of Kelly’s Casino home and Dozer likes taking shortcuts through the wall frames as he follows and watches Kelly’s every move.

She takes off her dark glasses and throws them onto the floor. Without a word from Kelly, Dozer picks up the glasses and takes them to Kelly’s lap.

“Dozer will get my cane and will bump me if I have a seizure,” she said.

Kelly’s zest for life is infectious.

“There’s always something to experience.

“I can’t see well but I can feel the wind. I can hear the birds.”

What does she miss from life before the brain injury?

“I miss my kids’ faces.”

Kelly’s children are 18 and 19.

The bare room, with its exposed frames is quiet. Dozer looks up at Kelly, his tail waiting to wag.

“I can feel the love though,” she said. “I can feel the love.”

Register for the Casino Fun Run this Sunday, October 23. There are 2km, 5km and 10km runs or walks.

Kelly Griffiths with Bulldozer, her assistance dog in training. Photos: Susanna Freymark
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