By Mamta Lulla
An author, a motivational speaker, a philanthropist, a painter and a burn survivor are a few ways to describe Kelly Falardeau, who lives in Stony Plain.
About 75 per cent of her body was burned when she was two years old.
She faced her younger years wanting to look beautiful just like all the other girls, with countless doctor appointments and several surgeries. Slowly and steadily, she learned to turn her story around, by becoming a survivor and not a victim.
“Up until I was about 20 years old, I would spend a whole month of summer in the hospital. We conducted surgery,” she said.
Today, she tells her story about being bullied and called ‘scar face’ to inspire people to turn their life around and just like noise-cancelling headphones, she teaches people to cancel out the negativity in their lives.
She still remembers a time when she walked into a garage sale and another woman commented ‘they couldn’t do better than that?’ A comment that left her feeling devastated until her outlook had to change. She asked herself, why does it matter what a stranger thinks?
“I was devastated because she didn’t know what I had gone through, the tons and tons of surgeries I have had and then I thought to myself, why am I letting this stranger take my power away?” she said in a recent interview.
She reminds herself everyday that she is blessed to have friends and family and they love her for who she is.
She placed a momento on a blanket that reminds people they are loved. Now, all ‘You are loved, you are needed and you are wanted’ blankets are a hit and everyone seems to want one. Falardeau created the first blanket from one of her paintings.
She connects with not for profit organizations that may wish to help charities with blankets such as local shelters and together they make it possible. People sometimes order a blanket for themselves because, well, why not? Everyone wishes to feel loved. It initially started as blankets for burn children across the province but grew with people demanding the comfort of blankets.
Last summer her blankets were given away to Fort McMurray fire, another 100 went to mothers on Mother’s Day and about 125 have gone to firefighters in Busby.
“I ask to sponsor a blanket for about $40 and we will give the blankets to them in shelters or you can also buy blankets for yourself because a lot of times people want to buy blankets for themselves,” she said.
This summer, she is planning a skydiving event called Jump for Kamp Kids. The idea is to raise money, a minimum of $1,000, and sky dive for free and the money goes towards buying more blankets for those in need.
Falardeau passes on her messages of strength at events where she gives her motivational speeches. She teaches people to turn tragic life stories into, beautiful, happy stories you want to hear over a cup of tea and a warm, fuzzy blanket.