An avid runner had to switch to a different sport after after a fall outside of her own home left her paralyzed.
Shelly Kerchner is now sharing her love of that sport with others and hopes to bring it permanently to the Quemahoning Reservoir.
She is a Go Fund Me organizer and told Channel 6, “Were all equal on the water so like I said, there’s no metal around me, I’m free and yeah its pretty amazing.”
Born and raised in Hanover P.A., Shelly Kerchner first came to Johnstown in 2008 when she began physical and occupational therapy after she suffered a spinal cord injury in 2006.
“One day I was just sitting down to eat breakfast, my stomach turned and I felt an ore, went outside, fell down my steps and snapped my neck instantly paralyzing me.”
Before her accident, Kerchner was a runner, running three to four miles a day. After her accident she needed to find a new activity.
She shared, “I had a friend who kayaks and she said ‘lets do this’ and I said ‘okay, you know how much work this is going to be?’ you’re going to have to lift me up. Its hard on people who want to make this happen. It was hard on them to pick me up and put me in and take me out.”
Kerchner says the first place she ever kayaked was at the Quemahoming Reservoir and she quickly fell in love with being on the water, but she didn’t want to rely on someone to always be there to help her get in and out of the boat.
“It’s been this last year where I knew this is supposed to happen and I need to work on this. ‘Cause it wasn’t just about me anymore, in which felt good, you know? Its others who want this too – want and need it.”
Kerchner says the accessible kayak launch would rise and fall with the water levels and provide hand rails for support.
She says management of the Quemahoming Reservoir support her idea.
She continues to turn to the community for support and believes the accessible kayak launch may be installed and available for use in a few years.
“There has not been one person who says ‘no, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Kerchner said a Grant for seventy-five hundred dollars was due this Friday for the new dock, but as the community’s interest heightened, she decided to postpone and raise more money.