On May 3, 2012, Danielle Kelly received the news that the man she loved, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Taylor Morris, was badly injured when an improvised explosive device detonated beneath him while he was serving in Afghanistan as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. In the blast, Morris lost both legs at the knee, his left arm at the elbow, and his right hand.
Kelly and Morris had been dating since high school. Though not yet formally engaged, they had planned to get married and were looking forward to building a life together. In that instant, however, both of their lives changed forever.
Morris was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he received treatment for his injuries. Kelly left her home and job in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and spent the next 20 months in Maryland to be with Morris throughout his recuperation.
The courage Morris summoned to persevere through the intense physical therapy as he learned to use his prosthetics was nothing short of heroic, as was the dedication Kelly exhibited to be there for him every arduous step of the way. Together, they were determined to continue building the life they’d planned, even if it wasn’t exactly the way they had planned it.
“Our new normal is getting back into the groove of life,” Kelly said at the time.
In April 2013, while still living in Maryland, Kelly was awarded a Pillars of Strength Scholarship from University of Maryland University College, and soon began taking online courses toward earning an MBA from UMUC. Kelly was among the the first group of volunteer caregivers to receive a Pillars of Strength Scholarship.
On October 3, 2015, Morris and Kelly were married at her parents’ home in Cedar Falls. Kelly has gone back to work as a Realtor, employing the skills that she acquired through the MBA program.
“We want to build our home and settle back into life after injury,” Kelly said. “Taylor has come a long way and is not only able to stand and walk but also to run, swim, kayak, snowboard, and bike. We may have to go about things differently but we know we will always have the life that we wanted to have.”