Seasons of Life with Reggie Kelly

Reggie Kelly, who caught nearly 200 passes over 12 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals, has parlayed his considerable name recognition into a growing company, KyVan, whose products are in over 30 states and 1,000-plus stores around the country.
But what drives the Atlanta resident today is no different from what motivated him while growing up in Aberdeen.
“My goal, when I started the company, was to glorify God,” Kelly said. “I had a great platform when I played football. This is no different. I want to continue to earn more and more resources and use them to help out those less fortunate – with school supplies for kids, feeding the homeless, feeding people at holidays. I want kids, at our cost, to be able to go shopping with athletes at the holidays and make it a fun experience for them.
“I love my home state of Mississippi. I love coming home and doing whatever I can to be some form of inspiration to the kids. We have given free hams and turkeys to the elderly. We have free football camps for kids in Aberdeen – we’ve done that to reward those kids who’ve shown academic excellence. We want kids to see that the sky is the limit, that wherever they’re from – big city to small town – dreams can become reality.”
Last year, Kelly collaborated with MSU teammate Chris Rainey (and former rival, when Rainey played football at nearby Amory High School) to raffle off donated KyVan products as a fundraiser for the Amory High volleyball team. Kelly and his wife, Sheila, also came home to help out when an EF5 tornado ripped through the town of Smithville in Monroe County in April 2011.
“A lot of homes were damaged, and lives were in despair,” Kelly said. “Sheila and I wanted to be an inspiration, but those people inspired us – they were upbeat and believed a brighter day was to come. I had an opportunity to go to one of the schools and hand out books, trying to put a smile on the faces of the kids, and we donated to the United Way.
“I try to do that in places across the country, try to help our communities that have been devastated by some sort of trauma or natural disaster. I believe God put me here to be a light and help out – if it’s within our resources, Sheila and I try to make a conscious effort to help.”
Kelly volunteers at Camp Twin Lakes, a network of camps in Georgia that provides programs for children with serious illnesses and disabilities; he typically drops by a local Williams Sonoma to cook with KyVan products, then offers samples to customers and advises them that when they buy his products that day, proceeds go directly to Camp Twin Lakes.
Additionally, Kelly coaches lower elementary kids in football and basketball on a volunteers basis, and he donated KyVan products at an event several months ago to honor those serving in the Tupelo National Guard.
“It means a lot to me to give back to any branch of our military,” Kelly said. “Husbands were away from their families, and I wanted to put smiles on the wives’ faces and the faces of their kids. There were 250 wives there, and Sheila and I gave apple butter to them to show them how much we appreciate what they do for our country.”
Kelly’s own kids, for whom KyVan is named, are now in middle school – daughter Kyla is 12 and son Kavan is 10. The former NFL star, who graduated from MSU with a degree in Industrial Technology and made the All-SEC honor roll, takes the kids with him to events and never misses an opportunity to share important lessons with them.
“I want them to experience life,” Kelly said. “I want them to see great customer service when I’m presenting my products to potential customers and merchandisers. I want them to treat people equally, and the way they want to be treated. We’re raising them to have love and compassion for all mankind. I hope they can take those lessons and pass them on to their kids.”
Visit Kelly’s website at http://www.kyvan82.com, and find them on Facebook.