On November 12th, Public Relations Coordinator, Emily Dennin visited the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex combined bobsled, luge and skeleton track for an incredibly special morning of sliding with a dozen veterans turned Paralympic athletes. From November 9th through the 13th, the group visited Lake Placid, many for the second time, to participate in a bobsledding and skeleton camp funded through an Adaptive Sports Grant by the Veterans Administration. While at the track, she spoke with two bobsled athletes, William Silva and Kelly Bailey, who described their stories and take on the unique sport…
Although following very different paths to the military, William Silva and Kelly Bailey share a deep-rooted desire to serve the United States. William Silva continued a family tradition of military service, enlisting in the Marine Corps as an Aircraft Rescue Firefighter and serving until 2001. Kelly Bailey joined the ROTC Reserves in college, motivated by his desire to jump out of planes and confidence in his ability to handle combat. He served as an Infantry Officer in the Army until 2000. As veterans, they describe their motivation to tackle challenges and an overarching responsibility to doing something for the greater good.
Despite both living in the Seattle, Washington area and having the same prosthetist, Will and Kelly had never met until landing in Albany, New York for the first Lake Placid Para-Skeleton and Para-Bobsled Camp in March 2015. With sharp twists and turns, speeds up to 85 mph, chilly temps, and a stretch known as the “Devil’s Highway,” sliding on the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex combined bobsled, luge and skeleton track is designed for the thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. The unique sport of bobsled requires skill, strength, endurance, dedication and drive to be successful. Will and Kelly are two competitors who not only demonstrate these characteristics, but do so as Paralympic athletes. At camp, they became fast friends, formed “Team Seattle” and in spite of challenge and disability, set out to represent the United States in the Paralympic Games.
For Will and Kelly, bobsledding provides a rekindled sense of accomplishment, unity and family, similar to the sentiment in the military, however; in a world full of politics and disagreement, sports competition represents “what is good.” While no longer on active duty, the recently formed bobsled team now feels they may be on track to representing the United States in a different capacity – one that involves flying down a frozen track in a sled, at fast speeds with steep drops and sudden turns. The two are addicted to the adrenaline rush and despite three crashes at camp, the team continues to slide.
After a crash in March, their bobsled slid about 800 Meters before stopping and when medics responded to overturn the sled, they overheard Will ask, “Are you dead mon?” to which Kelly responded, “no mon.” They know that success results from “years of training with many bumps and bruises” and operate with the philosophy that it is important to push the envelope and try everything at least once in life. Silva describes life with a prosthetic as a “bump in the road,” but both athletes maintain a positive outlook that has led to amazing personal and athletic growth, an attitude that will continue to drive the team towards the Olympic dream.
WILLIAM SILVA & KELLY BAILEY
William Silva currently lives in Lacey, Washington and works at the Lewis-McChord Joint Military Base as a Fire Inspector.
Kelly Bailey also lives near Seattle, Washington and works at GSA General Services Administration.
The camps at Lake Placid are funded through an Adaptive Sports Grant by the Veterans Administration. Learn more about the Adaptive Sports Foundation.