Dawn Kennedy speaks at a recent ribbon cutting as husband Mike sits and listens. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Dawn Kennedy speaks at a recent ribbon cutting as husband Mike sits and listens. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – A major accident in the life of Mike and Dawn Kennedy in November of 2013 totally changed the course of their lives and eventually brought Dawn, now a local attorney and financial coach, to the Van Wert area.

Early on, the local couple committed their lives to military service. Dawn’s family had established a military heritage. Following graduation from Freeport, New York, she joined the Navy in 1987. Her military background included a great, great grandfather in World War I, grandfather in World War II, and father in Viet Nam, making her the fourth unbroken line of service in the family. In addition, she has two sons with a military background.

Mike was a graduate of Van Wert High School. His military experience started in Panama. He then went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and deployed to the Gulf War for nine months. Eventually he was medically discharged in 1996.

Mike then worked as an Army Civilian which led to a transfer to Hawaii. It was there they met and were eventually married on the River Walk in Columbus, Georgia in 2006.

While Mike worked for a company giving creative solutions in big contracts with first responders, police departments and fire departments, while continuing their residence in Georgia, Dawn decided that she wanted to go to law school at age 40.

“I always wanted to go to law school,” said Dawn. “We had young kids so I waited for my turn.”

At the time she worked on her law degree in 2011, Mike had already worked for a government agency for 15 years. On April 4, 2011, he decided to leave his work and start their own company, a consulting firm.

In November of 2013, that all changed when Mike fell head first from an 18-foot elevated test site. The injuries that occurred included four skull fractures, a severed eighth cranial nerve and heavy brain bleed.

He was hospitalized for two and a half months in Shepherd Center in Atlanta where he was taught how to walk again, think straight and retrain several other injuries.

Mike could no longer work and the couple quickly fell into deep debt.

“We decided then that we were going to get out of debt,” said Dawn. “Through that, we were not only able to help our own situation but we could help others.

“As a consumer law attorney, we lost everything in three minutes. Within three years we paid $77,000 in debt,” said Dawn.

In September of 2017 the couple moved back to Van Wert. For a year she worked for a contractor in Michigan. In August of last summer she was able to open her own law office in Van Wert.

These days she has expanded her work to student loans, financial protection, veterans’ rights, federal appeals and financial coaching.