Man With Debilitating Birth Defect Will Not Let His Misfortune Stop Him From European Adventure!
Posted by GreaterGoodness
Kevan Chandler doesn’t let his lack of mobility get him down. Born with spinal muscular atrophy, the 29-year-old weighs just 65 pounds and cannot walk, but that’s never stopped him from exploring new places with his friends.
In the summer of 2016, Kevan intends to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, seeing various parts of Europe on the backs of his buddies — literally.
An Invention From Necessity
One day in 2013, Kevan’s friends invited him on an urban spelunking expedition beneath Greensboro, North Carolina, in the city’s sewer system. Kevan normally uses a wheelchair to get around, but the sewer tour wasn’t handicap-accessible, so the group came up with a unique solution to keep him from missing out on the trip: a makeshift backpack straight out of MacGyver’s playbook. In just one hour, the group had put together a contraption out of a metal-framed hiking backpack and hammocks, allowing Kevan to witness the cool sights underneath his hometown, which he described as dark, smelly and wet — and worth every minute of it.
Expanding the Dream
After the awesome sewer tour, Chandler and his buddies decided to expand their exploration beyond local sights. The quintet started organizing a tour of Europe.
Tom Troyer, Philip Keller and Benjamin Duvall are going carry their friend through France, England and Ireland. Luke Thompson is also coming along to take video of the trip. The friends want to turn the journey into a documentary film as the group tours three distinct parts of Europe.
Chandler plans to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing sights that have always been important to him. First on the list is Samois Ser Siene, France, where Django Reinhardt lived. Reinhardt developed a style of jazz that let him play guitar despite deformities in his hands. Reinhardt is a personal hero of Chandler’s. Next is Kensington Gardens in London, home of “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie. Chandler is an aspiring fantasy author himself, and Barrie is one of his favorite wordsmiths.
The last part of the European tour will be the most grueling, as the quintet wants to wrap up with a visit to a monastery on the Irish island of Skellig Michael. The structure was built in the sixth century, and everyone must traverse 600 steps to reach the monastery at the top of the island. The island may be familiar to movie fans as the setting for the final scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trip starts June 19, and Chandler wants to see it all. This journey isn’t just about sightseeing; Chandler believes it serves a higher purpose as well.
Lift Each Other Up
The European vacation serves as a reminder to everyone that humans need each other to survive and thrive. Chandler says, “We are all broken in some way or another, and so we all need our burdens to be held up and carried by each other. That requires sacrifice of self.”
This spiritual lesson is the reason why Chandler’s final part of the journey goes to the top of Skellig Michael as he gets in touch with his Christian faith. It’s as if climbing 600 steps may bring the young man closer to his idea of God. Another source of inspiration for Chandler’s life comes from his older sister, Connie, who was born with muscular dystrophy and also has mobility issues.
The motto of the trip is “keep moving,” which could also serve as a motto for Chandler’s life. In addition to a documentary film, Chandler plans to write about his experiences seeing Europe on the backs of his friends. Hopefully, the book turns into a bestseller that inspires millions of others to help their fellow human beings whenever possible. Kevan’s friends, attitude and sheer willpower will keep him going as he takes a journey that challenges the human spirit. His story proves that nothing can stand in the way, not even a birth defect that severely limits his body’s mobility.