INDIANAPOLIS – Have you ever thought about swimming around Key West, Florida? We’re not talking at the pool on vacation — we mean around the entire island!
An Indianapolis doctor and a team of local swimmers are in Florida right now about to take on the challenge. Weeks of training has led to this weekend and for Dr. Tim Kelly, his efforts along with his team, will help save lives.
Dr. Kelly is uniting his two passions, swimming and raising money for the Dove Recovery House for Women in Marion County.
Dr. Kelly of Community Health Network has devoted his nearly 40-year career to addiction medicine.
“I’ve got a lady I sent down there that’s been there for 8-9 months,” he said, “she’s doing well, it saved her life.”
That’s inspired Dr. Kelly to gather a team of elite and amateur swimmers to jump in and join him.
“I came up with this nutty idea to swim around Key West with a relay team. It’s 12.5 miles,” Dr. Kelly explained.
His team includes Susie Shuck, a swimmer from Indianapolis who has competed in numerous open water races across the United States and Mexico; Roberta Barber, a United States Masters swimmer who swims at competition level; Dr. Rob Newton, a family physician who has competed in many triathlons and two Ironman events; and Grace Newton, a senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School who has been swimming for 12 years.
Each stroke around the island will help raise money for an expansion project at the Dove Recovery House. It hopes to add 15 more beds to its facility, which is highly needed because there are currently 130 women on the waitlist.
“These are 15 more lives that will be saved every single night by the efforts of Dr. Kelly and others,” explained Wendy Noe, the CEO of the Dove Recovery House for Women.
Noe has seen the success of its recovery treatment and residential services.
In the last year, drug overdose death rates have increased 30 percent in the United States. She hopes this swim will not only raise money but change the narrative.
“There’s such a stigma tied around substance use disorder, it’s looked at as a moral failing,” said Noe. “People think that they don’t know anyone, and the reality is that every one of us is impacted by this disease in some way.”
And that’s Dr. Kelly’s motivation to just keep swimming.
“The work they do is absolutely amazing,” he added.
All of Dr. Kelly and his team’s hard work will pay off Saturday around 11 a.m. That’s when they’ll make that swim around Key West.
If you’d like to help with the fundraising efforts for Swimming the Keys for Recovery, click here.