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Clinton man undeterred by birth defects

Josh Kelley hasn’t let the fact that he was born with no arms and only one leg slow him down.

The 39-year-old Clinton man drives, takes care of his kids, fishes and lives his life just like anyone else, says his friend Tammy Gunn.

“He can outwork me any day,” she says.

Kelley’s father was exposed to Agent Orange when he served in Vietnam. Agent Orange was a powerful mixture of chemical defoliants used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War to destroy crops and eliminate forest cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. It has since been linked to a variety of health problems and birth defects.

Kelley is a member of the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance (covvha.net) and has been chosen by the organization to travel to Vietnam to help and encourage children in an orphanage who also are victims of Agent Orange. Kelley was afforded the opportunity to have therapists and caregivers as a child, something the Vietnamese children do not have.

Kelley’s trip is paid for entirely with the exception of airfare, which is $1,800 roundtrip. He has raised part of the money but is still short. The Clinton Chamber of Commerce says Kelley will have a table at this weekend’s Archey Fest to talk to people about why he wants to go to Vietnam. Donations toward airfare will be accepted and the chamber is working to secure items for a raffle.

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