Burn survivor's message: 'There's more to life'
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:04PM MDT Last Updated Thursday, June 14, 2012 11:23AM MDT
Inspirational speaker and burn survivor Kelly Falardeau speaks at the Annual Fire Chiefs Conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, June 13.
For most of her life, Kelly Falardeau has not only endured countless surgeries, but years of taunting from her peers – after an accident on her family's farm left much of her body severely burned.
These days, much of her time is spent travelling around North America, sharing her message of hope and inspiration.
On Wednesday, Falardeau brought that message to the dozens of Alberta firefighters gathered at the Annual Fire Chiefs Conference in Edmonton.
In her speech, she described the incident that left most of her body covered in scar tissue: On the family farm in Spruce Grove in the 1960s, when she was just two years old, a stray spark from burning barrel landed on her clothes, which caught fire.
Falardeau then endured years of surgeries and skin grafts, in addition to years of taunting from bullies at school.
"When I was growing up I knew I was the ugly scar-faced girl, and there was no way I could achieve beauty being the ugly scar-faced girl," Falardeau said.
The struggles she endured as she grew up have now turned into an inspiring story – the now-mother of three has written two books on self-esteem, and she speaks to crowds throughout the continent, spreading her message to teenagers and young women that beauty is not rooted in a person's appearance.
"There's just more to life than trying to fit in and being beautiful," She said.
"My family and my friends have never ever told me that they would love me more if I was scarless and beautiful."
Falardeau told CTV News she was excited to speak at the conference because it is her way of saying ‘thank you' to firefighters for the life-saving work they do.
With files from Laura Tupper