Raising SMA Awareness with Kerry Walsh
“Life is a beautiful gift and it’s our responsibility to live it to the full, that is what I plan on doing!”– Kerry Walsh
“My name is Kerry Walsh, I was born on the 22nd of October 1997 in a set of fraternal twins. Around the age of one, my parents had realized that I wasn’t developing like my sister was. I was taken to the doctor where I was diagnosed with low muscle tone. We tried months of physical therapy but unfortunately, there was no improvement. I was then sent for a muscle biopsy in my neck. They discovered that I had SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). I was given the life expectancy of 5 years old. My parents were told to take me home and enjoy the time we had.
That plan didn’t work for us because we were not just going to give up! I am turning 21 this year and I’m not planning on slowing down anytime soon. As a family, we take every day as it comes and always hope for the best.
As a child, I coped quite well in school. My parents sent me to a mainstream public school (Bryandale Primary school). I have a very low immune system, therefore, I was often ill with pneumonia. This led to me missing a lot of school days, but I always managed to catch up.
At the end of grade 6 we decided to start looking at possible high school options. Didn’t seem like it was going to be a complicated process, but nothing is as it seems, and it was going to be one of my life’s defining moments. We tried a lot of the public and private school in our area and every one of them said “no.”
We were left with two options that were not close to home or in our budget. I ended up going to a private school [Summit College] which was extremely accessible and accommodating. I managed well in high school. These events of needing to go to a school out of our budget led to the start of The Kerry Walsh Trust, which we used to host fundraisers to raise the money needed for my medical and educational requirements. Over the years we have had many successful fundraisers like the 94.7 ride for a purpose, Barnyard fundraisers, and charity golf days. The fundraisers now are aimed at also being able to give back.
At the end of matric I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, I decided to take a gap year and figure out my place in this world. During this time I had a “never say no” attitude. I was going to try everything that I could – and so I started my motivational speaking campaign @KmotivationSA.
I started with motivational speaking in high schools to encourage students to live life to the fullest, take advantage of their opportunities and to love all kinds of people, because everyone has a story, some are just a little more noticeable. I grew so much threw doing these speaking engagements and gained a lot of exciting opportunities from getting my name and story out there. I started a Twitter rating system so that people with disabilities knew the places to go that was the most accessible. I am extremely passionate about changing the level of accessibility in South Africa, because everyone deserves to go out without the fear of the premises not being accessible.”
Kerry was an ambassador for the Nappy Run 2016-2017, and was nominated as a Margaret Hirsch Women in Business 2017-2018.
Support Kerry in her mission to raise awareness about Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
The SMA Awareness Bracelets cost R30 per bracelet; consisting of silver, coral and mint green wooden beads with crystals – and a Hope, Tree of Life, or Awareness Ribbon charm. To place and order, contact the agent in your area or shop online. Alternatively, please consider a donation; any and all donations welcome.