Kevan Chandler, founder of the nonprofit organization We Carry Kevan, made national headlines in 2016 when some of his closest friends carried him on a specialized backpack across Europe. Chandler has SMA type 2, and since returning from his Europe expedition he’s written a book about the experience and helped produce a documentary about it.
Nevertheless, this adventure was just the beginning for this team. Now, We Carry Kevan is raising money for a trip to China later this year. SMA News Today caught up with Chandler about this trip, the fundraiser for it and what he and his team hope to accomplish.
Kevin Schaefer: What made you choose China as the next country for you and your team to visit?
Kevan Chandler: Even while we were in Europe, we talked about visiting China. One of our guys has a niece and nephew who are adopted from China, and he’d gone with the family to get them. So we had that connection and perspective, plus we had interactions with a lot of Chinese tourist groups while in France, which helped to prompt the conversation. It’s an old, magical, and exciting place to explore, and like anywhere in the world, it’s also a place where we could maybe be an encouragement in regards to disabilities. Then, last year, a great door opened for us to connect with an organization called Show Hope that serves orphans with disabilities there, which really solidified the idea to go.
KS: What specific goals do you and your team have for the China trip?
KC: Our focus this time is on the kids that Show Hope serves. We’ll take backpacks like mine for the nurses and therapists to use with the kids, and we will actually get to stay at the care centers and spend quality time with them. Of course, we’ll go out to explore some, visiting the Shaolin Temple and the Great Wall, for example, but the care centers will be the hubs we come back to and spend most of our time. Ultimately, we do hope to encourage and equip the kids, their caregivers, and the communities around them.
KS: Now that you’ve done the Europe expedition and started your nonprofit, do you feel more prepared for this one?
KC: We definitely have a better idea of what to do and not do. For example, we have a project manager for this trip, putting it all together with much better organizational skills than me, and while we all have responsibilities, everything goes through him, which is a huge help! We also know timelines better, and are more on track with how to train and prepare the team ahead of time. At the same time…it’s China. This is a whole other ballgame, the next level of “challenging” in international travel. So, while we are more prepared in a lot of ways, there’s still quite a bit of risk and uncertainty, which is what makes it an adventure, right? We’re excited to see what happens!
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