Allison Kelly graduates through tragic loss, major injury |

Allison Kelly graduates through tragic loss, major injury

Grand Valley High School senior Allison Kelly stands on the track just outside the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Grand Valley High School senior Allison Kelly received heartbreaking news this year. Her father, Mike Kelly, was just told by a doctor that he had cancer and likely had two years to live, she said.

The Kellys simply wanted to make the best of what remaining time they had together.

Kelly recalled that her father, a firefighter for the Colorado River Fire district, was given the news sometime between November and December 2020. On Feb. 15, 2021, her father died.

“My dad was a big factor in my life,” Kelly said. “And he was actually my throwing coach for track. So I just thought about all my goals that I have; he just wanted me to achieve them, and he was so supportive. I wanted to make him proud, and I still try to make him proud, even if he isn’t here. So I just keep pushing, just, like, thinking that that’s what he would want me to do.”

Then in March, Kelly had to undergo major hip surgery to repair tears in her hip joint, she said.

Kelly, a varsity athlete, would have to cheer on and coach her fellow volleyball players from the sidelines. Despite not being able to physically compete, she’s currently traveling with her track and field team to every meet.

“I thought it’s important, because, like, I’ve been a part of both these teams since I was a freshman,” Kelly said. “So I just really enjoy the sports, and I wanted to give back to the kids that, like, were still able to participate and wanting to do and have the same goals that I did.”

Kelly said she’s in the healing process and should be good to go by September.

Kelly has also strived to still excel in her schooling.

“I had kind of an easy schedule,” she said. “This last semester, I had two college classes. And then I was a teacher aide for Mr. Walck for a semester. I finished out pretty good. I had an A in my college biology class and a high B in my college English class.”

Her good grades are one more way she can honor the memory of her father, she said.

“I feel like my dad would be really proud of me and, like, see that I’m doing good, and on the last day of school, see that I finished high school — I didn’t like to give up and just not try anymore,” Kelly said. “I have all the support from everyone.”

Kelly admits some days are more challenging than others.

“I was just, like, missing him,” Kelly said of her father. “And, like, maybe something happened at school or sports, because being out of sports has been super tough on me, too. Because sports was one of my, like, hopes for anything bad in my life. So it’s just one of those days where it’s just … I’m missing him. I can’t do anything to get out of that funk.”

Kelly, who’s set to finish high school with a 4.0-grade point average, plans to attend the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

“I’m looking forward to making new memories,” she said. “Ones that I can look back on and, like, not erase my dad from but something that I get and think of him every time I think about it.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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