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Thank you to SMITH PUBLICITY, INC for sending me this book, We Carry Kevan, for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Image developing, at age 29, the intense desire to travel and explore the world with close friends.
And imagine, after a year of planning, fund raising and making arrangements in France, England and Ireland, seeing that dream become reality.
A group of seven friends parked their van at the airport and gathered up their gear, ready to depart on the adventure of a lifetime. One item they deliberately left behind…a wheelchair belonging to Kevan Chandler.
Born with a degenerative neuromuscular disease, Kevan is the youngest of three children born to Peter and Diana Chandler. And, he’s the second in his family with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy.
His muscles grow weaker, as he ages, and he has very limited use of his arms and legs. However, Kevan is not limited in the way he lives his life. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in counseling and he is an avid writer and storyteller.
Kevan’s compassionate heart and big personality draw people to him. He often joins friends for dinners, road trips or spur of the moment parties.
And Kevan dreams big dreams. One wistful idea, of traveling in Europe, met with encouragement and enthusiasm from his friends. In the summer of 2016 Kevan spent three weeks fulfilling his dream by vising three countries with six friends, without the aid of his motorized wheelchair.
Riding in a custom made backpack, Kevan’s friends carried him everywhere they went, including to the peak of an island mountain in Ireland. We Carry Kevan is the story of a shared adventure, yes. However, it is primarily a story of faith, trust and incredible friendship.
Paris, France. Photo from We Carry Kevan book.
We Carry Kevan in Paris France
The friends arrived in Paris, France on June 20, 2016 in time for summer solstice celebrations the next night. They quickly discovered that the people of Paris go all out when they celebrate, with music and singing and dancing in the streets.
And music is what drew Kevan to Paris in the first place. His desire to visit the home of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt became reality when the group attended a festival honoring the musician.
Kevan feels a connection to the guitarist, who lost the use of his ring and pinky fingers on his left hand after an accident. And yet that didn’t stop the musical genius from adapting. He emerged stronger and better, becoming one of the greatest known guitarists.
London, England. Photo from We Carry Kevan book.
We Carry Kevan in London
London offered the opportunity for Kevan and his friends, Ben, Tom, Phillip, Luke, Robbie and Mr. Hill, to meet up with online friends.
As the group planned their trip, people from the countries they intended to visit provided places to stay and acted as tour guides. From the small town of Oxted, the friends returned to London to mark Kensington Gardens off the “must visit” list.
While in London, Kevan seized the opportunity to stop by the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and view the Peter Pan statue in Kensington. Author J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan and made contributions to the children’s hospital, inspires the storyteller within Kevan. Standing where the author once stood, as he perched on the back of a friend, Kevan considered the great legacy Barrie left behind, and pondered what his own might be.
Skellig Michael, Ireland. Photo from We Carry Kevan book.
We Carry Kevan in Ireland
Finally the friends explored Ireland. Although they traveled throughout the country, their ultimate destination was Skellig Michael, a craggy island in County Kerry. Known for its rugged and stark beauty, Skellig Michael is the tip of a mountain jutting up from the ocean. An ancient monastery rests at the peak, which is accessible by climbing 600 stone steps.
Scaling the island mountain marked the pinnacle, literally, of the trip and presented the greatest challenge for those carrying Kevan on their backs. And yet, the men trained and prepared themselves, physically and mentally, for this very challenge. Up the mountain they went, to the very top. Taking turns carrying Kevan as they climbed, they ascended and descended, to the applause of others visiting the site.
Here is where the love of his traveling companions shone so brilliantly. About the unconditional love of friends, Kevan wrote:
“They were driven unexplainably to carry me, literally, through the impossible. Not because I’m cool or because I’m an inspiration to them, but because of a true love beyond themselves, beyond any of us. And this put us on a wonderful adventure across the known world.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Authored by Kevan, the story moves expertly through the grand adventure shared by this amazing group of friends. He writes honesty and openly about his disabilities, with a style that is imaginative and compelling.
I felt humbled by all that these young men accomplished and deeply moved by the compassion and trust that the group shares. Kevan requires assistance for everything…bathing, brushing his teeth, using the bathroom, getting dressed. And yet, he is definitely not a burden. Kevan is a courageous and bright adventurer with extraordinary friends who care for him and offer their very best…and their backs…to make his dreams come true.
Together they saw the world, says Kevan, as we all are meant to see it…big and beautiful and full of life. After their first trip, Kevan started a nonprofit organization to redefine accessibility and to assist other disabled people in fulfilling their adventures. Check it out HERE.
I’m inspired to continue my travels, and see the world the way Kevan sees it. I feel renewed gratitude for my left knee. Although it sometimes falters, my knee does the very best that it can, to take me where I desire to go. And, I see what Kevan does, moving beyond his comfort zone, on so many levels, to manifest his dreams. I know I can do the same.
Grab this book and settle into your favorite chair, with a cup of herbal tea. And prepare to be inspired as well.
Order your copy of We Carry Kevan by clicking on photo link below:
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