I’m not quite sure how old Kelley and I were when we first met, but I know we were in elementary school. I don’t remember when we officially became BFFs either. All I know for sure is Kelley Byrdsong is one of the greatest people I have had the pleasure of knowing in my lifetime. I think it’s easy to talk about how much our families influence us, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a best friend as caring, compassionate, intelligent, and strong as, Kelley B. Or “Songbyrd” as many members of my family call her lol. I could seriously type a college length essay about who she is, what she has accomplished, and why she means so much to me and my family, but I will try my best to keep it short.
Many people know Kelley as Coach Ricky Byrdsong’s daughter. Ricky Byrdsong was shot and killed by a white supremacist, while on a hate crime shooting spree, and killed another man as well, during 4th of July weekend in 1999. Kelley and her younger brother Ricky Jr. were with their Dad when this took place. Talk about terrifying to think about. I debated on whether I would put this information on this post, but it’s honestly important as to who she is and why I admire her. It was during the time after Kelley’s Dad’s death I really realized the awesomeness that is Kelley Byrdsong. Granted, we were only 10 years old, but you know enough at the age of 10 to recognize unbelievable strength in a person. Anyone who can go through an experience like hers and be the positively happy person she is today deserves some form of recognition.
After I moved away from Evanston, IL at the end of 7th grade, Kelley and I seemed to only get closer. Through high school and college we didn’t see or talk to each other as often, because as you can imagine, we were both pretty busy living and trying to figure out life. Especially since I stayed in Illinois (Loyola University Chicago) and she went to North Carolina (North Carolina A&T) for college. But she was the epitome of the friend you didn’t talk to regularly, but when you did, it was like we had just seen each other the day before. I will never forget on my birthday junior year of college, I had checked the mail and had a birthday card from her. I don’t think we had gotten a chance to speak for months at that point. But I will never forget how happy I was to get her card, and ever since that moment I made sure to make a better effort to stay in contact. Even if it was a short 5 minute text conversation, I wanted to make sure we tried our best to keep in touch. Since then we have made sure to stay in touch, and she is usually the first non-family member I go to with any news. If you need one more reason to understand how special she is to my family, when I had Jordyn, Kelley had to take four planes (yes- you read that correctly- FOUR PLANES) to get from Atlanta to Montana. As if that wasn’t enough, every day she had either cleaned a room in my house or made dinner. I mean…how many of us can say we have a FRIEND like her? Not a family member, but a friend. (Side note- I’ll tell you in another post how amazing my family members are for doing the same plus more the first few months Jordyn was born.)
Today, Kelley is currently working with the “Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence”, which had a huge victory in the state of Washington in last night’s election thanks to Initiative 594 passing. If you’re curious, the short version of Initiative 594 will now require all gun sales, including the internet and gun shows, to go through Brady background checks. Score! In addition to working on this campaign she is a youth Director for an Atlanta based organization called CYD (Create Your Dreams), which works to help underserved students in Atlanta follow their dreams and support their individual talents. And as if that isn’t enough, watching her grow spiritually has been even more inspiring. I remember she text me a few months back saying the homeless man she would always see, and give food to, on one of her daily routes wasn’t in his usual place, and she was worried something had happened to him. Months later, the man was back in his usual spot and she was beyond happy to see him again. She was so happy; she put up a status to tell all of us how happy she was to see him. How many of us can say we know someone with a heart as large as hers? Considering my personal feelings and future plans to help the homeless (more will be explained in my December blog post) this is only one more of the many reasons Kelley is someone who inspires me.
I think it’s pretty safe to say after reading about her and her credentials, you can conclude I didn’t choose Kelley as my November: Wisdom Wednesday person simply because she is my best friend. But because she actually deserves to be someone other people, especially young ladies, aspire to be like. If you didn’t know anything about Kelley Byrdsong before, I hope you get a chance to one day learn more details of her accomplishments, hopefully support her life efforts through prayer and positive gestures, and maybe even have the pleasure of meeting her. I’m just thankful God saw fit to bless my family and me with such a personal inspiration in our lives.
Happy Wednesday folks!
*top left- we were in 7th grade*
*top right- we were sophomores in high school*
*bottom left- my wedding day February 2013 in Evanston, IL*
*bottom right- this summer  in Great Falls, Montana*
Brie, this was certainly an amazing post!!! Your points are but one of many reasons I love Kelley so much! She’s an absolutely AMAZING and WONDERFUL young lady in so many ways. From being your “tennis buddy”, to becoming your BFF, she’s been a joy! She’s been an inspiration to me as well. Having known her Dad was an honor, and to see him channeled through Kelley in EVERY way imaginable is nothing short of stupendous. I’ve never met a young lady that has been faced with such tragedy, only to turn it around to make something positive! She could’ve easily been angry at the world after Ricky’s death, but she chose to not remain a “victim”, or to “mourn” each day by walking around looking sad; instead she fought, and became an advocate for victims instead. Talk about turning a tragedy, into triumph! What an amazing example this beautiful young woman has set for others. Kelley has been, and always will be one of my daughters! I always tell her how honored we are to have her in our lives, and as a part of the Staine family, and that comes from deep within my heart. I often tell Kelley how much I love her and what a blessing she’s been in my life, and I will forever mean those words from the bottlom of my heart! Kelley is the epitome of how God can move in you, and make you become the best you can be. The thing that amazes me most about this young woman, is the fact that she’s nowhere near done leaving her mark in this world; she’s just BEGINNING!!!!!! There is so much more greatness in her God is going to bring out, so many more lives she’s going to touch, and I pray the Lord blesses me to see it all unfold. I love my beautiful daughter, Kelley M. Byrdsong (aka my Songbyrd).
Who else is calling her “Songbyrd”? That’s my name for her! 😉 I LOVE YOU KELLEY! <3
She is definitely loved by our family. So blessed to have her in my life <3
Kelley M. Byrdsong says
I love you more, Mama Kim. I really can’t say anything that would let you know how much I love you and your family for adopting me in as family.
Like I told Brie below, God blessed me twice when He blessed me with her. And your encouragement throughout the years, I will never take for granted. Seeing you at the race every year.. You really will never know how my heart lights up.
Like I said, words can never do it justice how thankful I am for you.
Love you so much!! And you’re the only one that calls me Songbyrd 😉
Wow, what an amazing story of strength and friendship. Kelley really is such an inspiration and one for our daughters to look up to! Thank you for sharing this story. I am so happy you can call her friend.
Yes, I am so happy our daughters have someone like Kelley to look up to. I’m honored to call her my best friend. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Kelley M. Byrdsong says
Thank you so much for the kind words. It means a lot. I’m even happier I get to call Brienne friend 🙂
*Heading to your blog now*
Kelley M. Byrdsong says
Oh my goodness, ya’ll.. I really don’t deserve such nice things said about me. I’m sitting here just shaking my head, not knowing what to say because I know that God has blessed me even more by putting you and your family in my life. It’s rare that I have someone that inspires me who is around the same age as me.. But you inspire me everyday. I could write a post as long as this describing all the ways, and it still wouldn’t suffice. I love you so much! Thanks for being a best friend to me. Thanks for being a sister. Thanks for listening to all of my crazy thoughts, dreams, aspirations, and visions on who I’m going to marry, lol.
My world is so much better because you’re in it. God blessed me twice when He blessed me with you.
Love you, Brie!
I love you more sis! I’m happy you enjoyed the post. You really are all of these and more. Never forget it! 🙂 <3