Kellan sits at the window, staring out at his sprawling backyard. He watches his seven siblings play in the yard and run down to the barn where his dad stands, feeding the family’s chickens. Kellan loves to be outside too; he loves sitting in the lawn and helping his dad care for their little collection of animals. But too often, his wheelchair keeps him inside.
Kellan’s medical struggle began the day he was born. During his first 24 hours, doctors discovered a cancerous tumor entangling his spinal cord. At just three days old, Kellan began chemotherapy. After months of treatment, Kellan was in remission, but he faced lasting health complications and was paralyzed from the waist down. At just 15 months old, Kellan became the youngest child in Maine to be fitted for a wheelchair, and he took to it like a natural.
Today, Kellan is just like any other spirited 3 year old – curious, energetic and fiercely independent. The difference? He has to navigate the world in a wheelchair. The uneven terrain of Kellan’s backyard is especially challenging, so his dad has to carry him.
When Make-A-Wish® volunteers visited Kellan to ask what his greatest wish was, Kellan’s parents had no idea what he had in mind. Everyone was surprised by the simplicity of his wish: to have a path to the barn so he could spend more time with his dad.
A Community Effort
A local construction company, Wireless Construction, Inc., took the lead on turning Kellan’s wish into a reality. They donated their time, skills and equipment, in addition to connecting with other Maine-based suppliers and tradesmen to construct the 200-foot path. For more than a week, workers from seven businesses traveled from southern Maine to Kellan’s family’s home.
“Every time Kellan was around them, they would pump him up and give him high fives,” Kellan’s dad, Dan, told local reporters. Kellan carefully oversaw the construction of his path and even offered a helping hand, laying down bricks and hammering nails. Each night during the construction period, Kellan went to sleep asking about his path, and each morning, he woke up asking about it.
“In a time when you see such sad news stories … we have this. A story about a little boy and a community coming together to give him independence,” Kellan’s dad said.
Kellan pauses at the edge of the path and looks down the stretch of smooth brick. He grasps the wheels of his wheelchair and in a burst of excitement, pushes himself forward. “On your marks, get set, go,” he shouts, wheeling down his new pathway. He fixes his sight on the barn and his dad standing there, waiting for him.
“He ‘runs’ up and down his trail. We ‘run’ up and down it as a family. He calls wheeling running,” Kellan’s dad explains. “It’s the only running he’s ever known.”
At 3 years old, Kellan is starting to notice that there’s something different about him, that he can’t move like his siblings. But his wish has given him greater mobility, independence and confidence. It’s the start of a new kind of life for Kellan, and it will last a lifetime.