Sudbury warrior still battling

William Kerr, who was grievously wounded while serving in Afghanistan, with his family. His daughters are trying to raise money to modify a truck for his use. GoFundMe photo

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William Kerr understands sacrifice. The retired corporal, a former reservist in Sudbury who was serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment, was four hours into a foot patrol during his second tour in Afghanistan when the unthinkable happened.

Kerr was conducting a training exercise with the Afghan police. Kerr and several others were clearing a building when he happened to be last in line. As he passed through a doorway, an improvised explosive device went off. He was on top of it and lost both legs and part of one arm. His injuries were devastating and Kerr spent nearly two years in hospital and in rehab, learning how to function again as a triple amputee.

Now, the retired soldier is looking to set up a non-profit equine assisted learning facility on his farm in Chelmsford.

But he needs help.

“He was a soldier fighting and training others to better protect this country,” Kerr’s daughters, 19-year-old Zoe and her sister, 15-year-old Abby, say on their GoFundMe page. “Because of his injuries he is unable to do anything the ‘normal’ way. He cannot walk or drive independently and so he is bound to a wheelchair most of the time.

William Kerr of Chelmsford is the first triple-amputee combat veteran in Canada since the Second World War. File photo

“In an attempt to regain some freedom and independence, he has found a way to alter a truck so that he can drive it independently, as well as get in and out of the vehicle unaided. Unfortunately, this independence is very costly. We have exhausted all of our other options and are now turning to you for some help.”

With only one arm, Kerr has had to learn how to do almost everything, including driving a vehicle, again. The family is trying to raise $50,000, which will go towards the cost of modifications – including a gas and brake pedal on the steering wheel – for a new vehicle. He also needs a truck he can get into without having to lift his wheelchair, because, as Zoe said, “he can’t do that himself.”

The truck itself will cost $40,000 and the modifications will cost another $40,000; however, Kerr has some money saved.

“It is something that he needs for his own independence and for his own freedom,” Zoe said Friday. “It’ll help with our business and with our horses. He’ll actually be a lot more involved with what we’re doing with the horses. He’ll also be able to participate more in home life.”

Tammy Lachance, the girls’ aunt, said the two girls are hoping to surprise their dad for Father’s Day.

“I know it’s only a few months away although it’s the thought of them wanting to find a way to help him,” she said. “Billy has done his driving test and passed with flying colors; however, the vehicle he has is breaking down and causing havoc.”

As Zoe explained, the program Kerr would like to establish will be open to other veterans, as well as civilians who have experienced trauma.

“You’re able to learn how to communicate with other people and cope through the horses,” she said. “It’s a way for people to get over their trauma and to communicate with their loved ones, family and coworkers, and learn how to be able to work as a team.”

To contribute to Kerr’s GoFundMe campaign, please go to bit.ly/2O5X17Q.

mkkeown@postmedia.com

Twitter: @marykkeown

705 674 5271 ext. 505235

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