The Extraordinary Story of Kevan and His Friends, Who Carried Him on Their Backs to Travel the World
A friendship recipe has been given to us by scientists: eating similar foods can create a connection between strangers. So if you break bread with someone, it can help you build trust, which is the foundation of any good relationship.
Kevan Chandler believes in his friends greatly, and they have a strong bond. Even though he has a rare neuromuscular disease, he wasn’t afraid to entrust them with his life. We are grateful to tell Kevan’s story: he took a risk and ended up having an adventure.
Kevan’s childhood influenced his life choices.
Kevan Chandler grew up in a big family. He has 2 siblings, and he is the second child to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). “Mom and dad helped us live life to the fullest so that, as an adult, I hold the same standard for myself today in all I do,” he shared.
“I am the youngest of 3 wildly creative kids, and we have our parents to thank, in large part, for cultivating that spirit in us. Imagination ran amok as my sister and I bounced around our backyard in our wheelchairs, my older brother playing with us like nothing was out of the ordinary,” he explained.
Kevan and his 6 friends were driven by a dream to travel the world.
When Kevan and his friends decided to see the world together, they were aiming to do this without a wheelchair. That was a challenge they were ready to accept. And they made it happen.
The group found a creative and, at the same time, risky way for Kevan to enjoy the journey. They helped design a special device by adapting a kid carrier backpack to ensure a safe trip.
Although it isn’t always easy to depend on other people, Kevan took a leap of faith and left his wheelchair behind. “We were in a rush to get to the airport and on the airplane. So at the moment, it just kind of happened,” Kevan said.
The adventures Kevan and his great group of friends had on the trip were a revelation.
“With these friends and the places we went together, every day was packed with interesting experiences,” Kevan remembered. He and the guys had fun that is worth all the effort and obstacles that came along with it. They had a chance to dance in the streets of Paris, hiked through the English countryside, and even scaled the island of Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland!
When Kevan least expected it, he met his friend and life partner.
While Kevan and the guys were traveling in China, they spent a week at a care center for kids with disabilities. There he met Katie, the girl of his dreams, who worked with non-profits. And 2 years later they became husband and wife!
Kevan and his friends were eager to help others travel easier and redefine accessibility.
When they took part in designing a carrying pack, which is now being used all over the world, it changed everything for a lot of people. “We started hearing from families all over the world asking us where we got the backpack, where did I get these friends, how were we making this happen?” Kevan said.
“We are passing that on to others and helping people realize, through example and coming alongside them, that accessibility comes together when you have people with you to think creatively and outside the box,” he concluded.
“I’m a big fan of living life to the fullest.”
We asked Kevan to share some grains of wisdom with us that he gained from going through life, and this is what he told us: “I’m a big fan of living life to the fullest. Many folks hear that and think I mean climbing a mountain or trekking the Great Wall of China. Those things are fun, but the fullest, richest, craziest, most fun, adventurous life we can live happens when we put others before ourselves.”
What does “living your life to the fullest” mean for you? What steps do you take to get close to the idea?