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Kelly's Mission Is to Help People of Liberia

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Malcolm Kelly has already had one "life-changing experience" this year: he was a Redskins' second-round draft pick last April.

As the young wide receiver out of Oklahoma continues to mature, he is seeking out more life-changing experiences.

From July 3-10, Kelly is traveling to the African nation of Liberia on behalf of the global charity Mercy Ships.

Mercy Ships operates hospital ships, staffed by crews of professional medical and non-medical volunteers, to serve the poor in developing nations.

They provide free medical and dental care, as well as surgery if needed. They also offer rehabilitation and educational services to break the cycle of disease.

During Kelly's week-long trip, he will visit Mercy Ships' flagship Africa Mercy, which is the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship. It is currently docked in Monrovia, Liberia.

"It was a big Army ship, but they turned it into a hospital," Kelly said. "What they do is, they travel around the world and the people in the countries line up to get free checkups. It's everything from orthopedic surgery to dental checkups--everything they can't afford over there."

The trip is designed to shed light on the medical relief effort Mercy Ships provides for the people of Liberia as the country upgrades its health and well-being standards. Liberia is still recovering from more than a decade of civil war.

Kelly is scheduled to meet with Liberian officials and hold an international press conference before leaving Liberia.

Mercy Ships has performed 1.7 million medical services worldwide since the organization's inception in 1978.

Volunteers on Mercy Ships have also visited communities to help construct clinics, orphanages and water wells, as well as develop agriculture programs.

It's a cause that has struck a chord with Kelly.

"We take for granted too much over here [in the United States]," Kelly said. "We take for granted that we can wake up, go to a fountain and get clean water. There are people in other countries drinking dirty water and that's what everyday life is for them. So I just want to go over [to Liberia] and be a part of helping out."

Kelly got involved with the East Texas-based charity through a teammate at Oklahoma. Mercy Ships' headquarters are located just 25 miles from Kelly's hometown of Longview, Tex.

He named Mercy Ships his charity of choice after he declared for the NFL Draft last January.

During his trip, Kelly will also spend a day working out with members of the 2008 Liberian Olympic Team. He has enlisted the help of his own personal trainer, Chip Smith, to help train the Liberian athletes and generate support for sports in Liberia.

Several thousand spectators are expected to attend the training session.

"As I have come to know the history and spirit of the Liberian people through Mercy Ships, I feel a real connection to the country," Kelly said. "I admire the way they are rebuilding for the future and I want to do everything I can to help them restore their country."

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