A personal note from Vela Co-Founder Kelly Kocher
It’s been a long time, huh? I want to thank all of you loyal Vela ladies who have checked in and asked about Vela Adventures. I also want to personally explain why we have been so quiet. In November 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a pretty shocking diagnosis, especially since I ticked all of those “healthy” boxes. Young (only 39), a non-smoker, active, well-balanced diet, etc., etc., etc. As with everything, I was stubbornly convinced I could handle the emotional and physical challenges of having cancer, be present with my family, run a business and keep up with all my volunteer commitments - all with a smile on my face. I thought I could be Super Woman (thanks to a friend for sending me my own Super Woman pictured above). I was actually kinda doing OK, even after my mastectomy in January. It wasn’t until the chemotherapy started that I realized I wasn’t strong enough to do it all. I had to focus on myself and my family.
It was such aN emotional blow to let Vela go for awhile. We have grown so much over the past three years. We had successful Women in Adventure speaker nights, raising thousands of dollars for local charities. We were selling out our adventures and having a great time meeting new Vela customers. We expanded our team with two Vela Concierges leading adventures - it was a very exciting time for Vela and a really hard decision to pull back.
However, I was completely knocked off my feet with the debilitating effects of the chemo treatments. It was a really, really long four months of physical, mental and emotional stress that I would never, ever, in a million years wish on anyone. And, anyone reading this who has either gone through this hell or watched a family member deal with it, my heart goes out to you. I know watching me battle these treatments was just as hard on my family as it was on me.
With all that said - let’s get to the good part! I’ve got some hair on my head, some new boobs and a healed body that is ready to get back in the saddle with Vela again. Now more than ever, I passionately believe adventure is the magic ingredient to a strong and powerful mind and body. Exactly one month after my last chemo treatment my sister-in-law and I climbed two 14ers. It was really, really, REALLY, hard but when I reached that first summit I was so very thankful. I was thankful to my body for being strong enough to take me to the top of the mountain.
Being outdoors and active during these past 10 months has been one of the key ingredients to staying positive. While hiking in the woods I would take a few minutes to be still and breathe in the pine, memorize the views, feel the air on my skin. Being outdoors is rejuvenating and energizing and peaceful. So, I am beyond excited to get more women to try something new, to build their confidence, feel empowered and strengthen their bodies and minds.
Thank you again for your patience and loyalty to Vela, and thank you for allowing me to share my story. I can’t wait to see you on an adventure soon!
Vela is all about fun and adventure!