Have you ever wondered how mental training and sheer determination can prepare someone for the fight of their life? In this special episode, I had the privilege of interviewing Kelly Vo, an Ironman triathlete and breast cancer survivor…. and co-founder of The Pink Ribbon Army!
Kelly’s story is not only inspirational but also a testament to the power of mental training and resilience. Her journey, from a dedicated athlete to a triumphant cancer survivor, highlights the profound impact that mental skills can have in the face of life’s toughest challenges.
Keep reading to discover Kelly’s remarkable story and the lessons we can all learn from her incredible journey!
A Shout-Out to the Community
Before we dive into Kelly’s remarkable story, let’s take a moment to celebrate a member of our community, Christie, and her daughter. Christie shared how her daughter’s mental game training helped her not only make the top-level junior high volleyball team but also develop confidence, gratitude, and encouragement for her teammates. It’s a testament to the power of mental skills in sports and life.
Way to go, you two!
Kelly Vo’s Background in Athletics
Kelly’s athletic journey started early in life. Her mom encouraged her to explore various sports, eventually leading her to soccer, which became her passion. Despite initial insecurities, she worked hard and honed her skills, gaining confidence and leadership qualities along the way.
Kelly’s commitment to soccer continued through high school, where she played a pivotal role in launching her school’s soccer team in a small town. This experience further strengthened her leadership and determination.
After high school, Kelly faced setbacks, including a torn ACL, but she persevered, making the college soccer team as a walk-on. She carried this resilience and a strong work ethic into her adult life.
Transition to Triathlons
Kelly’s transition to triathlons was a remarkable turning point in her athletic journey. It all started with an unexpected opportunity that led her down a new path. Despite some initial reservations, Kelly decided to embrace this challenge and venture into the world of triathlons.
The shift from soccer to triathlons was a significant leap, requiring her to adapt to a completely different type of competition. But Kelly’s determination and work ethic shone through. She began her journey with a half Ironman, a grueling race that tested her endurance and mental toughness. This race was a pivotal moment for Kelly, as it gave her a taste of the multifaceted challenges that triathlons presented.
Undeterred by the daunting nature of the sport, Kelly set her sights on even loftier goals. She went on to conquer a full Ironman, showcasing her ability to overcome adversity and push herself to the limits of physical and mental endurance. Her dedication to training and her sheer tenacity enabled her to achieve remarkable success in the world of triathlon.
Kelly’s transition to triathlons not only marked a shift in her athletic pursuits but also laid the foundation for her incredible journey through a life-altering battle with breast cancer.
Facing Breast Cancer
In 2021, amidst the global pandemic, Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer. This life-altering news arrived when she was at the peak of her physical fitness, following months of intense training. The shock of the diagnosis was profound, leaving her questioning, “Why now?” Yet, she refused to let cancer define her.
Kelly’s initial reaction was anger, a natural response to such a life-altering event. However, she channeled that anger into action, using her mental strength and endurance from years of triathlon training to face the challenge head-on. Doctors recognized her resilience, both physically and mentally, as a significant advantage in her treatment journey.
Applying Athletic Mindset to Cancer Treatment
For Kelly, her cancer treatment became a race of its own – she drew parallels between triathlon stages and her cancer treatment. Surgery was the “swim” phase, chemotherapy the challenging “bike” phase, and subsequent surgeries represented the “run” to the finish line. Her mental fortitude honed in triathlon played a pivotal role in her resilience during treatment.
The lessons learned in sports, including perseverance, determination, and the ability to overcome adversity, directly translated to her cancer journey. The mental strength cultivated over years of competition served as a guiding light, helping her navigate the toughest challenges life could throw her way.
Today, Kelly Vo stands triumphant as a cancer survivor, her spirit stronger than ever! She has returned to her beloved triathlons, living proof of the transformative power of mental training. Her story serves as a testament to the enduring impact of sports on one’s character, resilience, and ability to overcome life’s greatest hurdles.
Supporting Breast Cancer Fighters: The Pink Ribbon Army
During Kelly Vo’s battle with breast cancer, she didn’t just fight for herself; she fought for her community. She, along with her husband, started an organization called The Pink Ribbon Army to make a positive impact.
The name “Pink Ribbon Army” was carefully chosen. Pink ribbons symbolize breast cancer awareness. Adding “army” symbolizes strength, resilience, and unity. An army never gives up, and it’s made up of many people working together for a common cause.
The Pink Ribbon Army organizes a major fundraising event every year. It’s a combination of a golf tournament and a 5k run held in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This event is about physical activity, bonding, and support. The location at Chambers Bay offers not just a great golf course but also beautiful views of the sound.
Most of the Pink Ribbon Army’s funds go to Northwest Hope and Healing, another non-profit. This organization provides urgent financial help to breast cancer fighters. They cover various needs, from childcare for single moms during chemotherapy to rent and hospital parking expenses.
What makes Northwest Hope and Healing special is their swift response. There’s no waiting around or complex applications. If they see someone in need, they step in right away without asking many questions. This immediate assistance takes away the financial stress, letting patients focus on beating cancer.
The Pink Ribbon Army doesn’t just focus on research funding. They concentrate on helping people in their community. By supporting Northwest Hope and Healing, they directly assist those who need it now. This makes a real, immediate difference.
Building The Pink Ribbon Army hasn’t been easy. Kelly, her husband, and sisters have worked hard to promote the organization. Their dedication has helped many in their community.
Your Chance to Make a Difference
If you’re feeling inspired and want to join the cause, there’s a simple way to do so. In the show notes linked below, you’ll find an opportunity to support Kelly’s nonprofit AND come hang out with us for a day! Your contribution can directly impact the lives of those fighting breast cancer in the Seattle area and research that supports all women, everywhere.
By supporting this nonprofit, you become a part of a community that believes in the power of collective action and strives to make a real difference. Your generosity can help relieve the financial burdens faced by individuals in their fight against breast cancer.
Kelly Vo’s incredible journey teaches us that staying strong mentally and never giving up can help us overcome tough challenges. She went from being a sports enthusiast to beating breast cancer, showing us that our minds can be our biggest allies.
Her story also shows that when we work together as a community, we can make a big impact. Kelly and her husband started the Pink Ribbon Army to help people fighting breast cancer, providing quick assistance to those who need it. By supporting groups like this, you can join a team that believes in the power of teamwork and making life easier for those facing breast cancer. Your help can change lives and keep the spirit of never giving up alive.
[03:09] How did you get into sports? Kelly shares her background in athletics.
[14:17] The importance of having the right mindset and support. Kelly talks about the importance of building the strength in her own gut, soul, and heart to fight against setbacks.
[20:31] The scariest part of the diagnosis. Kelly goes in-depth about her thoughts and feelings after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
[25: 58] Treating cancer treatment like a triathlon.
[31:09] Transitioning from sports to work and life. Kelly talks about how her athletic background has helped her in her career, and how it helped her through her cancer diagnosis.
[36:24] The Pink Ribbon Army. Kelly talks about the nonprofit she and her husband founded, The Pink Army, which is a way to give back and turn a terrible situation into something filled with goodness.
[41:07] The importance of having a mindset coach.
- To donate to The Pink Ribbon Army, head to our fundraising page here: https://fundraise.givesmart.com/vf/2023PRA/KristinaBreanneSmedle
- If you’re local to the Seattle area or want to come visit, join us at the Pink Ribbon Army Golf Tournament and 5K here: https://pinkribbonarmy.com/2023-pink-ribbon-army-golf-5k-1k/
Thank you in advance for joining us on our mission and leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.