While many athletes are preparing for a weekend of leisure on the July 4th holiday, Longview's Malcolm Kelly is packing his bags for Africa. In two days Malcolm will visit Liberia, one of the world's poorest countries.
It was a visit he promised to make when he signed on to endorse the charity, "Mercy Ships." This afternoon, Malcolm spoke exclusively with KLTV 7 Sports Director Maya Golden on his mission of mercy.
"People always see you as the football player and they think that's all you care about," Kelly said. "I tell people all the time football is not who I am, it's just what I do."
Malcolm Kelly is a play maker. The wide receiver always seems came up big on the football field. Now Malcolm is working to score for the people of Liberia.
"It's always been a lifelong dream anyway just to go to Africa," Kelly explains, "
but to be a part of an organization like that, makes it that much better."
Malcolm will stay aboard the "Africa Mercy." a hospital ship run by the charity Mercy Ships. The international charity provides free medical care around the world.
"People go to sleep not knowing if they are going to wake up because they are starving, hungry," Kelly said. "I mean the stuff they go through, if you looked at that in the United States you would be like, that's not supposed to happen to anybody. People are not supposed to walk around sick their whole life, blind, tumors hanging off the side of their faces and stuff like that just because it's only one doctor for 100,000 people."
"You always want to treat people how you want to be treated, I've always been taught that and I know if I was in that situation I would want somebody to reach out and help me too.'
Malcolm grew up just miles from the Mercy Ships headquarters in Garden Valley but did not become familiar with the organization until one year ago. Hearing tales of the the surgeries worked on Mercy Ships convinced him to endorse the charity before he was even drafted in the NFL. One story of a two year old boy stuck with him.
"He had cataracts on his eyes," Malcolm said, "and all it took was a little ten minute operation. Now, they were saying, for the first time in his life he could see his mother's face. He had been with her for two years, never could even see her face, he could hear her voice. But you just think about that."
"It took 10 minutes to make that happen. If that had been in the states it would have happened like that," Kelly said, snapping his fingers.
Malcolm will watch the medical procedures on the Mercy Ship, visit with the Liberian Olympic team and political leaders of the country. I asked him, how he thought this trip might change him.