Five years after having a serious stroke that left the left side of his body paralyzed, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veteran Tim Kerr is walking his first half marathon on May 28 at this year’s Home of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.
A regular and reserve naval officer for 28 years, Kerr was serving as the Commanding Officer of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Algonquin in the summer of 2012 when he suffered a serious stroke and brain hemorrhage. Thanks to the heroics of his crew, Kerr was flown to the US Navy Hospital in San Diego and received the help he needed.
After stabilizing, Kerr was taken to Ottawa and entered the Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital in Ottawa as a patient in the Stroke Rehabilitation Unit and as an outpatient where he continued rehab.
Because his left side was paralyzed from the shoulder down, he couldn’t walk or move and was forced to use a wheelchair and had to be fed by the staff.
“At that time it hit home just how disabled I guess I was….the realization on my part about what my new starting point, where events had conspired to place me and then where I was going to have to start to make some progress,” remembered Kerr.
WATCH BELOW: Tim and Anne share their story in English with French subtitles
Although Kerr struggled initially with recovery, he persevered thanks to family and the rehab team at Bruyère. He also received tremendous support from his chain of command and fellow CAF members.
He slowly progressed from using a walker to a cane to being able to walk on his own. He was able to return home four months after his stroke and returned to work full-time almost one year after the stroke.
Kerr’s decision to take part in this weekend’s Scotiabank Half Marathon, part of Ottawa Race Weekend, is a testament to how far he’s come in recovering and also gives him an opportunity to give back.
“Just to be able to walk at all without a walker and to be able to walk that distance is really an accomplishment, I think, which speaks to how well I was supported by the staff at Bruyère, the doctors, the nurses, the volunteers, the occupational therapists, as well as my family, certainly,” said Kerr.
Through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Kerr is raising money for the Bruyère Foundation that not only encompasses the Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital but also Saint-Vincent Hospital, Bruyère Research Institute, Saint-Louis Residence, Élisabeth Bruyère Residence, Bruyère Village and Bruyère Academic Family Health Team.
“I owe a great debt to that organization and the men and women that work at Bruyère. And, so, this is an opportunity, hopefully, for me to not only help the staff and the organization but also the patients who are currently there and who will be going there as patients in the future,” noted Kerr.
Kerr’s original goal to raise $2,000 has long been left in the dust, and he has now raised upwards of $6,000.
Kerr will be carrying one pound for every $100 he’s raised on the day of the marathon.
“Walking a half marathon with 60 pounds is going to be a challenge for me; so I'm looking forward to the challenge. It’s a good way to try to challenge myself and challenge people to sponsor me to raise awareness for Bruyère,” added Kerr.
Kerr has also received numerous amount of support from friends and family all encouraging him in his mission.
“I’ve received so many emails and words of encouragement, which means just as much to me as any monetary donation. So, I’m very touched by all the support I’ve been given,” said Kerr.
Sponsor Tim Kerr by donating to the Bruyère Foundation.