Kelsey Tainsh has a motto, one she earned the hardest way but shares easily.
“See differently. Try differently. Live differently.”
When she takes the stage to deliver a motivational speech, like she recently did at Coke's Atlanta headquarters, the 24-year-old addresses the “differently” thing right away. Her right arm is slightly bent, and she walks with a bit of a limp. It’s all the enduring result of a stroke she had at age 15, after the return of a brain tumor that first struck her at age 5.
What makes Kelsey different is her story, part of what
makes her so inspiring that she returned to
It was a homecoming of sorts. Kelsey is a
“She has faced more challenges in her young life than most
of us will face in our lifetimes,” says Mark Davis, president of the
at an Early Age
Kelsey was the smallest of triplet girls, healthy and
energetic throughout early childhood. But when she was 5, her parents began
noticing trouble. She bumped into walls, needed to be held constantly, and
couldn’t see things right in front of her.
An MRI revealed a large brain tumor. After surgery and radiation treatment, Kelsey was healthy for years, exceeding in acting and sports. She earned roles on shows like Desperate Housewives and, by age 15, was a champion rower and also third in the world for girls’ wakeboarding.
Then the cancer came back. During a 10-hour operation, the teenager suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed on her right side.
Doctors told her she’d never leave her wheelchair. But now, after years of physical therapy and graduating with high honors from the University of Florida, Kelsey walks on her own, lives on her own and has dedicated herself to her speaking career.
Her July 17 speech at Coke
included hard-won wisdom from the young woman who even now knows her cancer
could come back again someday. She shared a number of pithy and inspiring rules
to live by with the crowd of employees, including:
- “Don’t live in fear,” she says. “I’ve learned that ‘fear’ just means False Evidence Appearing Real. F-E-A-R.”
- “When we hear ‘No,’ it often means we have asked the wrong question or the wrong person.”
- “Look past your losses to see your possibilities.”
Kelsey was pleased to recall her long relationship with
Coca-Cola Believed in Me'
And throughout her speech, she drove home her message of
diversity, well-being and self-leadership – key themes within the
“We’re all different,” Kelsey says. “We’re all different and there’s no such thing as normal.”
To learn more about Kelsey visit www.KelseyTainsh.com