Greensboro College Graduate Student Will Help Carry Disabled Friend Across Europe

Kevan Chandler. Learn more about his story at
"GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Philip Keller, a graduate student in Greensboro College's Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program, has joined a team that will help carry a friend with muscular dystrophy on their backs across Europe to see sights he otherwise wouldn't be able to.
Keller and friends Tom Troyer and Ben Duvall are raising money to take Kevan Chandler across parts of France, England and Ireland this summer. Chandler has muscular dystrophy and normally relies on a wheelchair.

Another friend, Luke Thompson, will film and photograph the journey.

Keller says the venture stems from a trip in 2013 when Chandler, a writer and sound editor who belonged to his weekly potluck supper club, told the group it would be fun to accompany them in their "urban spelunking" - "cave exploring" in sewers.

So Chandler's friends took turns carrying the 65-pound Chandler on their backs through the abandoned sewers under the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where Keller had studied as an undergraduate.

Now, the group is  trying to raise $35,000 for the trip to and across Europe to see sights ranging from Samois Ser Siene, France, the winter home of the late jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, to Skellig Michael, an Irish island that is home to a sixth-century monastery.

The friends plan to carry Chandler on a specially-made backpack frame and care for his needs along the way.

"I have had the opportunity to travel several places in the world, and do so very easily because I am able-bodied," says Keller, who plans to teach in Asia and advocate for refugees after completing his degree.

"However, even many able-bodied people do not strive to reach their dreams. This trip has the potential of inspiring everybody, able-bodied or not. If someone who is as handicapped as Kevan is not allowing his condition to stop him, there is no excuse for anybody."

Keller hopes the documentary film that will be made of the trip will help send that message to a wider audience.

"Through community and by bearing each other's burdens, each one of us can reach heights together that we could not do alone," he says. "Knowing Kevan, and getting trained for this particular journey has already changed me. I am continually inspired by Kevan's joy and zeal for life."

Greensboro College's 30-hour M.A. program in TESOL qualifies graduates to apply for full-time teaching positions in academies and universities abroad -- a requirement that cannot be met by simply obtaining a graduate certificate in TESOL.

For more information about the program, contact director Michelle Plaisance at 336-272-7102, ext. 5285, or email

Greensboro College provides a liberal-arts education grounded in the traditions of the United Methodist Church and fosters the intellectual, social, and, spiritual development of all students while supporting their individual needs.

Founded in 1838 and located near downtown Greensboro, the college enrolls about 1,000 students from 29 states and territories, the District of Columbia and seven foreign countries in its undergraduate liberal-arts program and four master's degree programs. In addition to rigorous academics and a well-supported Honors program, the school features a 17-sport NCAA Division III athletic program and dozens of service and recreational opportunities."

- A Press Release

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