Stronger Than Yesterday: An Amputee’s Love Story
Advocacy Afghanistan veteran and amputee, Taylor Morris, and his girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, have a bond that inspires people from all walks of life.
Taylor Morris and girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, were two regular 23-year-olds from Cedar Falls, Iowa until May 3, 2012. It was then that Taylor Morris, a Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) tech lost both legs at the knees, his left arm at the elbow and his right hand. Morris had stepped on an improvised explosives devise (IED) while clearing a path for his Army Special Forces team in Afghanistan. Ever since, the nation has been captivated by his story of recovery and strength, and in July 2012 President Barack Obama presented Morris with a Purple Heart at the White House.
Mediaplanet had the chance to ask Taylor Morris and Danielle Kelly some questions about the experience, and where they are now.
Your story and photos have inspired millions of people. How does it feel to know that you’ve touched so many lives – including both veterans and non-veterans? What message do you hope people take away from your story?
To us we are responding to a traumatic event and injury in our lives the only way we know how. We are fighting back and working towards the life we always thought and knew we would have. If people are motivated or inspired along the way then that is a bonus to us. We love hearing about people from all walks of life and how we have helped better some aspect of their life.
You’ve gone through more than most people can even imagine. What keeps you motivated?
Seeing that end goal. Imagining the life we wanted before all of this and telling each other that we can still have that life; it will just take a lot more hard work upfront than we expected. Setting small goals along the way and celebrating small victories keeps us positively moving forward.
How important do you think positivity is in the healing process?
Very important. We have been fortunate to not have a lot of set backs along the road to recovery. The positive momentum throughout our rehabilitation has been crucial to our overall recovery.
If you could give one message to the loved ones of current service men and women, what would that message be?
It is important to know that an injury is a real part of the job, but I wouldn't dwell on it. We have gotten through every hurdle one step at a time. Whether that hurdle would be time away from each other during deployment or the constant movement that comes along with the military lifestyle or a traumatic injury—we have addressed each hurdle as they come because we knew our relationship was worth fighting for.
What is one word (or phrase) you would use to describe your life?
One motto we live by is: It could always be worse. Believing in this phrase whole-heartedly allows us to move on without feeling sorry for ourselves.
What have been your most recent endeavors?
We went skydiving last month! We went to a football game with the Boston Marathon victims; it was a neat experience to hear their point of view throughout their journey.
What message would you give to those service men and women?
We think supporting each other through those tough moments is where you pull strength from.
You’ve talked about the support of your friends, family and girlfriend Danielle. How important is a strong support network to one’s recovery?
No matter how strong you are, a strong support system in vital to the recovery process.
What was your experience with the healthcare professionals you worked with?
They were all top notch professional. I have absolutely no complaints of my experience at the hospital facilities.