FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Many people dream of backpacking across Europe, but one Indiana man is saying he’ll actually be the backpack.
Chandler was born with muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes progressive muscle weakness. On any given day, you can find him in his wheelchair writing at Fortezza Coffee on S. Calhoun Street, composing adventures of love and sacrifice.
“That’s just a story that never gets old,” he said. “Even after we’ve heard it and after we’ve learned it, we need to be reminded of it.”
An adventurer himself, Chandler has explored the sewers of Greensboro, North Carolina in 2013.
“It was cold and wet, infested and as gross as you would expect, but it was awesome,” he said.
Chandler’s four traveling companions took turns carrying their 65-pound friend on their backs with a customized backpack, equipped with padding, a backrest and saddle. They believe his muscular dystrophy doesn’t make his dreams any smaller than theirs.
“Considering the guys that were carrying me, I was much taller than I’m used to being,” he joked.
Chandler then began believing the the sky is the limit. He and his friends wondered what adventure they could go on next. A few years later they created “We Carry Kevan” with a plan to backpack through Europe. Over three weeks, they’ll view wonders in France, England and Ireland. Chandler said the catacombs, gardens and monasteries they want to see would normally be inaccessible to him.
“These guys want to make this happen,” he said. “They want to serve me in this way.”
He said their story he wants to share as an example for the world.
“We’re all broken in some way or another and so we all need our burdens to be held up and carried by each other and the only way that’s going to happen is if we help each other out and that requires sacrifice of self,” he said.
Chandler will be back at Fortezza after the trip to write a book about the experience. The “We Carry Kevan” team will also produce a documentary film and music of their European adventure.