Kelly carrying his father’s memory on the track
Amherst’s Nathan Kelly is honouring his father’s memory with a helmet that pays tribute to the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax and how children were so important to the teacher and administrator that died of cancer last year.
AMHERST – Nathan Kelly is carrying his father’s memory with him every time he climbs into his racing kart and hits the track.
Kelly, 20, is wearing a helmet he designed that pays tribute to the IWK Children’s Hospital and something that meant so much to his father, who died last April following a long battle with cancer.
“I designed it myself and the inspiration for the design came from dad because he was big about working with children. It seemed like a good way to give back to the sport,” Kelly said. “I decided to get it done in the IWK theme to help raise awareness because children meant so much to my dad.”
The helmet features the IWK logo along with numerous children’s handprints. There are several messages of hope and healing on the top of the helmet, the breast cancer logo and his father’s racing number, 77.
His father, Barry, began teaching soon after his graduation from Dalhousie University in 1984. He taught in Shelburne and Springhill before coming to Amherst, and was the first principal at Spring Street Academy when it opened in 2005.
Kelly and his father were constant companions on the track as he grew up racing karts locally before moving on to national competitions in Quebec and international races in Florida, Arizona and California.
The third-year psychology student at Mount Allison University said he goes to the IWK Children’s Hospital once a month to talk the patients, show them his helmet and racing gear.
“I go visit the IWK a lot and hang out with the kids. It’s a great experience,” Kelly said. “Sometimes we lose perspective with how privileged we are. When you see a child that can’t leave the hospital it’s moving. It puts it all in perspective.”
Having his father with him at the track during his last months meant so much to Kelly and he didn’t know what it would be like to take to the track that first time after his death.
“I have to admit I was a little nervous because he’d always been there and was always available to give advice and guidance when I needed it. I started in racing because he was a racer,” Kelly said. “That first time on the track after he died was great because I felt his presence. It was like he was right beside me on the track. I had a great group around me as well.
“I’m so honoured to be able to continue racing. It’s a great outlet.”
The design has also helped with his racing career in that he picked up sponsorships from K1 Racing Gear and Bell Helmets.
He’s also sponsored by Mike Dobblesteyn of PSL Atlantic.
Kelly said he is always looking for additional sponsors as he continues to develop his racing career. Anyone willing to help can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.