A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, Kelly Camel spends his Saturday mornings selling his custom athletic gear. His t-shirts show his personal philosophy in life with words like “Enthusiasm” and “Persevere” on them. Camel was born three months premature and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 18 months. Today, at the age of 35, he is nearly deaf and must use a wheel chair to get around.
Despite these challenges, he lives independently and works with the University of Montana’s Basketball team. Now, he has also started his own athletic clothing line. As Camel’s mother, Rhonda Swaney, said, “The team came up with the idea to incorporate inspirational words into the T-shirts because of the obstacles Kelly overcame. Kelly chooses the words and designs he would like to use.”
While he can’t play sports, Camel loves the game and wanted to design sports gear as a result of this love. When Camel had his business plan in place, he received a grant from the Vocation Rehabilitation department to fund his first Tshirt called “Enthusiasm.” His company, “Kelly Gear” started at this point. When customers purchase Kelly Gear t-shirts, they get a rubber bracelet and a card that tells them about cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, etiquette and even a sign language alphabet. Kelly Gear can be found at www.kellygear.com.