Rachel Kenny and her Inspirational Journey with Scoliosis Pt 1

Facing Scoliosis Surgery as a Young Athlete


Reaction to Needing Scoliosis Surgery

When we found out that I had scoliosis and was in need of corrective surgery I decided to try everything that I wouldn’t be able to do for a year during the recovery process. I had my surgery in 2014 when I was 13 years old.

Trying Numerous Sports Before and After Surgery

I have always been a very active person, partaking in multiple different sports during the week after school. In the year before my operation took place, I competed in the Irish pony club tetrathlon.


This involved running, swimming, shooting and horse riding. I was not yet at that standard necessary to compete well, but I was a few months too old to do the junior version and I was determined to experience this. I have been horse riding since I was 7 and it was heartbreaking to find out that I would not be allowed to ride my horse for a year. Once I got the all clear from the surgeon to go back to sports I went horse riding as soon as I got home. I also went back to my other sports like GAA and basketball at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately I have since stopped horse riding as I had to sell my horse during my leaving cert so that I could focus on my studies. When I was going horse riding I would do the one metre show jumping courses, cross country and dressage as I’ve found flatwork is fundamental and very beneficial to all disciplines. Over the years I have tried most sports that are available in Ireland at least once. My favorite two activities were horse riding and kayaking.


Unlimited Opportunities from Rachel’s Unlimited Potential

Other than sports I have an interest in traveling and leadership. While in college I was on the committee of two societies; I was chairperson of volunteer overseas and Public Relations Officer/assistant chairperson of new opportunities along with being safety officer for the canoe club all in my final year of studying accounting and finance. I enjoyed being part of multiple clubs and societies during my three years in university. I found it a good way to make friends and try new things that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to try before. Moving through college during a pandemic that limited social interaction was difficult but participating in these clubs and societies even online was a great way to stay connected with people.

My love for travel was found from a very young age when I went travelling around Europe during the summers with my parents. Since my operation I have been to 15 countries across 4 continents. Most of these trips were with my parents but I have also been to Spain with my Transition Year class and went on an international exchange program to Germany for four weeks. My most memorable experiences traveling however have been volunteering with humanitarian organisations and Irish NGO’s working in Kenya and Iraq. Having the opportunity to see different cultures and experience different lifestyles has been an important aspect of my life that I am hoping to continue into the future. 

Advice for Young People Facing Surgery

Throughout all my different experiences in life since having my surgery I have found that it’s okay to be scared to do things because of how it might affect your body. It’s natural to be worried about getting hurt but being able to feel that fear and acknowledge it but still pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is where you are able to find your passions in life. I would much rather regret something not going to plan than never getting to experience the wonders that life has to offer. There is so much beauty in the world and if I let my fear decide what I did I would never have started freestyle and made it to the World Championships or experience the beautiful snow covered lava fields of Iceland by horseback or have the confidence to travel alone and meet incredible people along the way. These experiences will always stay with me. Being able to allow yourself to be bad at something and try something new might lead you to beautiful places even if that is just to get out of your own head. Don’t be afraid to find and do the things that might give you passion and enjoy the life you live.