Walnut Creek's Real Life “Wonder Woman” Kelsey Ellis Joins Forces with Gal Gadot in new Nat Geo docuseriesMay 05, 2021 03:44PM ● By Pam Kessler
Born on St. Patty’s Day in 1991, each year twin sisters Audrey and Kelsey Ellis would spend their birthdays together and celebrate the luck of having “built-in birthday buddies for life.” Last year on March 13, Audrey, who had graduated from nursing school in Denver and achieved her dream of becoming a transplant nurse, flew to Portland for a 29th birthday celebration with her “wombie” Kelsey. Tragically, the lingering cough Audrey couldn’t kick from the “worst flu of her life” in January, turned out to be COVID-19. On March 22, 2020, Kelsey lost her soul mate Audrey to the disease.
But instead of isolating herself in her pain, Kelsey, a trained trauma counselor and lifelong surfer, reached out to help others deal with grief and loss. In October of 2020, she started a surf therapy program, Waves of Grief, through the Ground Swell Community Project in Half Moon Bay. Since then, Kelsey has helped hundreds of women learn how to deal with their grief through surf therapy.
In the National Geographic documentary series, IMPACT, Israeli actress Gal Gadot, follows the powerful stories of six women, including Kelsey Ellis, who are making an extraordinary impact on their communities around the world. Despite living their own devastating losses, these resilient women, from diverse backgrounds, share a commitment to making an impact and improving the lives of other people around them. Kelsey Ellis tells her story of losing Audrey in “Surf Sisters.”
“Surfing has always been my personal therapy practice; I studied trauma, grief, and loss. Surf therapy is about finding comfort in your body and feeling connected to your body. For a lot of participants in my groups, it’s their first time putting on a wet suit and getting into the ocean,” says Kelsey in the documentary. "Whether it’s a job, a wildfire, or a loss of a loved one, we are all in this together.”
To honor her sister’s life as a passionate natural healer, Kelsey founded the Audrey Marie Ellis Foundation, which is providing direct support to women and health care workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.