PIKEVILLE, Ky (WYMT) - Under Head Coach Kelly Wells, the UPike Bears have seen unprecedented success on the basketball court, but off the court he battles a familiar foe.
Back in 2004, Shawne Wells, Kelly's wife donated one of her kidney's to her husband. They were told he could get up to 25 years off the transplant, fast forward to 2014, 10 years was not what they expected.
"It was tough, said Shawne Wells, "and so you think you kind of got short changed a little bit because it's only been 10 years, but then you have to go home and pray and know that this is in God's hands. He has a bigger plan than we could ever imagine and so you just have to have faith."
The disease, IGA, is life-threatening, targeting the kidneys. However Kelly found a way to balance his health, his family, and coaching a top NAIA Basketball program.
"I think they lift me up more than I lift them up." Said Kelly.
Wells led the Bears to a surprising National Championship run in 2011, but nearly one year later Kelly's health began to decline, putting into question whether he could finish the season.
"To get to work with a great group of student-athletes everyday is motivation, to work with my best friends in the world as my staff is motivation as well," said Wells.
Following a 2013 season full of milestones, a 30 win season, Mid-South Conference regular season and tournament champions, the time had come for Wells to return to the operating room. Another family member rose to the occasion, Boyd County Schools Superintendent Brock Walter.
Kelly on Brock, "He was tested 10 years ago and was a match then and that didn't change this time he stepped up and wanted to be a part of that. To say that I am blessed is an understatement."
But what can never be overstated is how his fight and positive attitude is motivation for everyone around him.
"Life happens for everybody, I could sit and sulk and sit at my house, get old and let this life slip by but I'm not interested in that, I've got two kids I want to see grow up and be a part of their life and I've got a great job that I want to see maximize as high it can." Said Kelly.
And that is a game plan worth living for.