Perry William Kelly has faced a lot of fights in his many years of competing in karate, but perhaps his biggest one will happen this August when he represents Canada at the 2017 World Police and Fire Games in Los Angeles, California. He’s hoping to win gold in the aged 50-60 category, something he’s been training for daily by sparring with fighters close to 30 years his junior and working out regularly.
“I’m focused 100 per cent on this goal,” he says. “I wake up every day ready to put in the work needed to achieve it.”
Two years ago, Perry retired from a thirty-year-long career with Public Safety Canada. During that time he spent five years working at CSC in security, inmate affairs, and learning and development. He also worked with the Office of the Correctional Investigator.
As anyone in corrections knows, this field of work can be very challenging. It presents mental health challenges for employees who often deal with situations and subject matter that is disturbing and difficult. For Perry, martial arts training served as a release for him, keeping him physically and mentally healthy, and giving him something to focus on outside of work. He was lucky, but not all of his colleagues were. That’s why he’s using the lead-up to the World Games to raise awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst frontline responders.
“Correctional officers and other frontline responders often find themselves in dangerous situations,” he says. “We need to open up the discussion about this important topic, something that is very close to my heart because I have two close friends who have been diagnosed with PTSD.”
At the age of 59, Perry shows no signs of slowing down. Staying active, he says, is the key to his longevity and health – “If you stop, you rust!”
We wish Perry all the best and will be cheering him on as he goes for gold this summer.