Kevin Shipley has just turned 17. He has managed to squeeze a lifetime of struggle, pain and triumph into a few short years. When Kevin was 2, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Muscular Dystrophy called Duchenne's. Quality of life deteriorates at an early age and prognosis is grim; there is no cure.
Many people have been curious about the title of "Team Kevin". In 2013, Kevin was asked to be the Ambassador for the 2014 annual Muscular Dystrophy walk for Southern Alberta; to be held in Lethbridge. Kevin's family has been involved in this fundraiser for a long time. In previous years, they never really shared this activity with many people. They collected pledges, but felt like they were "imposing" on people if they asked them to come and walk for the cause. Shortly before this MD walk; Kevin's grandfather lost his battle with Alzheimer's. His death drew our family very close, and it was the first time Kevin's mom, Rachelle, felt that she could turn to us for strength and support. Our father's experience with Alzheimer's and his passing gave us a little glimpse of the struggle Rachelle was facing daily. The day of our Father's death Rachelle felt prompted to invite family and friends to come and support Kevin's Ambassadorship by attending the MD event. Online registration required a name & "Team Kevin" was chosen. When family and friends began signing up, Kevin's parents were very overwhelmed and humbled at the outpouring of love and the large number of people who turned out for the event. Kevin's mother said that until that day, she felt like Kevin's struggles were a private family matter. After that day, she realized that others care and if they are invited and included, they are happy to get involved. It was the first time Kevin's family felt like they weren't alone. No one expected at that time that Kevin would decline so rapidly, or so much. But, "Team Kevin" is still the name we share with anyone who is willing to help lift, cheer, and lighten the burdens of this tremendous young man and his family.
As a little update; Kevin spent 5 months (Nov. 2014 - April 2015) between the Calgary Children's Hospital and the Rotary Flames House. His 17th birthday was in April and his only wish was to go home. Through massive effort from friends and community, Kevin got his wish. He is very grateful. There are many sacrifices involved, though. He is far away from facilities and equipment that would help him. Programs and assistance are sparse and in most cases unavailable where they live. His care is now 100% in the hands of his parents. It is an exhaustive and grueling schedule. He continues to struggle with heart and lung issues, he has multiple spinal fractures, his bones are dissolving and his muscles have deteriorated. He is on very high doses of multiple pain medications to help ease his ever increasing pain. Both parents are needed to care for Kevin 24 hours a day; causing his father to step away from his job and the family's only source of income.
Despite it all, and what lies ahead, Kevin is positive, kind, and inspirational. He is currently serving a Family History Mission for his church, setting an example for us all. His focus is turned outward and he inspires all who know him.
His family is enduring a very stressful financial situation as they attempt to gather and purchase medical equipment and make modifications to their home that will allow them to keep Kevin comfortable as long as possible. Their home was wheelchair friendly, but now must be made hospital bed friendly. Although everyone has done their best to shelter Kevin; he is aware and has expressed concern and guilt over causing his family any hardship. Kevin is a wonderful young man whose trials have given him strength and wisdom beyond his years. He is deserving of any kindness, compassion, charity and relief that comes his way.
We appreciate any who have taken time to learn about Kevin's life and journey. Donations go directly to Kevin's family. We are collectively grateful and overwhelmed at the love and support shown by family, friends, and compassionate strangers. TEAM KEVIN welcomes and thanks you!!
Kevin had the chance to be on CTV here are those interviews:
CTV- Meet Kevin