I first met Kevan Chandler a few years ago when I sat down with him at Baja Burrito to talk writing and publishing. Kevan’s an author, a podcaster, a voracious reader, a movie lover, and a man of rare wit and humor. It’s been a delight to get to know him since that first burrito, and I’m honored to consider him a friend. Every time he’s in Nashville, we try to get lunch. He’s always got something new and interesting up his sleeve, and just a few days ago he launched his latest adventure.
This is an adventure unlike any you’ve come across before. Let me explain.
It began a while back with Kevan’s dream of going urban spelunking—that’s fancy-talk for exploring the sewer network under a city. Now, not everyone is fit for urban spelunking—but that goes double for Kevan. Why? You see, Kevan has muscular dystrophy. He only weighs about sixty-five pounds, has no use of his legs, limited use of his arms, and relies on a wheelchair (and friends) to get around. Urban spelunking provided a real challenge.
But with the help of his friends, he overcame that challenge. He explored a network of city sewers while being borne in a backpack. It was a beautiful picture of friendship and service, and it gave Kevan an idea: Where else might he be able to go, if only he had someone to carry him?
So was born the “We Carry Kevan” campaign. And this time he’s going a lot farther than the local sewer.
He’s headed across the pond. Kevan is going to backpack across Europe—but Kevan isn’t wearing a backpack, Kevan is the backpack.
Europe is full of places he’s always dreamed of seeing and exploring. Places like castles, mountains, and islands. But most of those wonders are inaccessible to someone with Kevan’s limited mobility. So a team of friends have gathered around him to provide this once-in-a-lifetime experience. A company in South Carolina is even designing him a custom “Yoda Pack” for the trip. I was disappointed that they didn’t call it the “Man Saddle,” but Yoda pack will do just fine—certainly better than a C3P0 pack.
While they’re in Europe this summer, they’ll be making a documentary film about the trip, Kevan will be writing a book about it, and the team expects it to give birth to a few songs as well.
Ultimately, though, this is adventure of real friendship and Christian love. I get choked up just thinking about how beautiful it is for one to physically carry a friend, to bear the literal burden of friendship in complete selflessness. I think the whole idea is a beautiful expression of the love of Christ, and I’m honored to be able to help in the small ways that I’m able. I’m glad that I, too, get to help carry Kevan.
Obviously, a trip like this costs a lot, and Kevan’s friends are putting their own lives on hold (and their own finances on the line) to make it happen. They can’t afford to shoulder the expense alone, so they’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money. The “We Carry Kevan” campaign is a chance to be a part of something incredibly unique. Take a few minutes to check out Kevan’s website. Or check out his podcast (hilariously called “Crips & Crepes”), in which he and his wheelchair-bound cohost discuss life over crepes. But definitely visit the campaign website and consider lending a hand to help carry Kevan.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he’s the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.