When Kevan Chandler was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, his prognosis was not good. He would never walk and would only have limited use of his arms and legs. But as the youngest of three, this North Carolina man didn’t let his physical limitations hold him back. In 2016, Chandler and a group of friends undertook a trip that many would have thought impossible – they hiked across Europe carrying Chandler in a backpack every step of the way, thus proving that anything is possible. And so the We Carry Kevan movement was born.
After graduating from John Wesley University with a degree in counseling, Chandler knew that there was still more he wanted to do. And that included seeing Europe. But with many sites offering limited wheelchair accessibility and rigorous terrain, the trip seemed unlikely. That is until he and his friends made a makeshift backpack that allowed them to carry Chandler on their backs. After starting a GoFundMe page to help them raise funds for the trip, the group of seven set out on their journey in June 2016, leaving Chandler’s wheelchair behind in the Atlanta airport.
They filmed every step of their adventure, from mountain hikes through Ireland to dance parties in France. Four of the friends took turns carrying Kevan on their backs, while two documented the journey. The result is one of the most powerful testaments of friendship, determination, and the power of the human spirit that we have ever seen. But most of all, it shows us that anything is possible with some help and a new perspective.
After the trip, We Carry Kevan grew into a nonprofit that aims to inspire both the disabled and able-bodied to rethink their definitions of accessibility and has since led to a second trip to China. Their mission statement is simple, yet powerful:
BELIEVING IN THE INHERENT VALUE OF ALL PEOPLE, WE CARRY KEVAN MOBILIZES INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES BY REDEFINING ACCESSIBILITY AS A COOPERATIVE EFFORT.
Watch the video below and if you can get through it without emotion, then you’re a stronger person than me! Not only does Chandler himself provide a moving example of what we can accomplish when we refuse to accept society’s limitations, but his friends embody love in its purest form. It is proof that anything is possible.