The next morning dawned like so many others for the Reynolds boys. They were up before daylight. They headed to town, picked up their load of papers and began their delivery route. John was at the wheel of their Pinto station wagon, and Kevin was lying in the back with the bundles of papers and a loose spare tire. Then it happened. On the way to get gas, both Kevin and John fell asleep. They had almost reached what used to be the Quick Pick convenience store, now known as Ideal Market. Their Pinto veered directly into oncoming traffic and they were hit broadside. Despite only traveling at about 25 miles an hour, Kevin was severely injured. He was medevac’d to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville where it was determined that Kevin’s spinal cord was severed. Therefore, he was labeled as a paraplegic. He would not be able to use his legs the rest of his life.
I will never forget when we, the cross country team, got word of the accident. News travels fast in a small town via the grapevine. Just a few hours after the accident, we all knew. The next day, the cross country team loaded into a van and Coach Wallace drove us to Nashville to see Kevin in the hospital. The grayness of the day felt like a weight I could not lift. Sadness filled the air. When we saw Kevin lying on his back in the hospital bed, motionless, it stirred feelings of helplessness in me that I had never felt before. After our visit with Kevin, we piled back into the van and headed back to Cadiz. We were traveling home together as a team, yet we were each alone with our own thoughts. Once we got home, there wasn’t much we could do for Kevin except send cards and offer up prayers. As it turns out, however, there was much Kevin could do for himself, and this is where the story takes a turn for the better. It is still turning to this day, as you will find out.
Kevin was transferred to Lexington where he completed a three-month rehab program in six weeks. He began setting goals. The first was to graduate with his class. By the second semester, he was back in school. In May, he graduated from Trigg County High with the class of 1978. Kevin then attended one semester at Hopkinsville Community College. At Christmas, Kevin’s best friend Fenton Dawson talked him into going to Lexington, attending the University of Kentucky and becoming his roommate. Kevin said, “Fenton was an incredible friend, and he gave me the strength to go to UK.” Kevin also said that his mom and dad always considered Fenton to be their 10th child.
Life soon took another major turn for Kevin as the UK Wheel Cats asked him to play basketball for them. The Wheel Cats were ranked in the top 10 teams in the United States. Kevin played well for the Cats. He said, “The success I had on the court carried over to success in other things. I got stronger, and it made my life easier. My main life goal became to change the way people look at someone with a disability. I wanted people to focus on what someone with a disability could do rather than what they couldn’t do.” Kevin went on to branch out to other sports. He snow skied and played golf and tennis. He developed the ability to hit a golf ball 200 yards and play bogey golf from his wheelchair. By the way, Kevin went on to play 15 years all over the country in the wheelchair version of the National Basketball Association. He ended his career with the Utah Wheeling Jazz.
Oh, by the way, while Kevin was learning to play all these sports, he was also in the process of getting his degree from UK. He graduated with a degree in business. After college, Kevin interned in Maryland at a Naval research center. About a year later, Kevin married a young lady that he had met at UK by the name of Kathryn Dravage. The newlyweds soon moved back to Kathryn’s home state of Utah. They recently celebrated their 28th anniversary. Kevin and Kathryn have two children, sons Graham and Ethan, ages 19 and 16. Kevin currently works for the Department of the Interior for the US Government as a CIO.
As you know by now, Kevin Reynolds has lived a good and full life. Kevin’s life is a testament to his toughness, courage and relentless positive attitude. Kevin said that his upbringing in Trigg County had a lot to do with his recovery. He said, “I remember the farmers and how hard they worked. It seemed like they never retired no matter how old they got. They were tough people that helped me develop my work ethic. Some of the attributes I got from working with those farmers helped me in my recovery.”
Kevin said that he often tells his friends in Utah about the no-stoplight town that he grew up in and the good people that lived there. Kevin said, “I tell the people out here about Coach Jim Wallace. He was more than just a coach. He was a role model for us. He was always there for us. He was and is just a great man. One of my lasting memories of Trigg County is how every inch of my hospital room at Vanderbilt was covered with cards. Also, I will never forget Mr. Harold Knight driving to Nashville to cut my hair. Those type of things are what make Trigg County forever special in my heart.”
In closing I just want to say that I am proud to be Kevin Reynolds’ teammate and friend. I wish him Godspeed as he continues to tackle new endeavors and make people take notice of what he can do. Kevin’s positive attitude should be an example for all of us.
Merry Christmas to all of you. Remember the reason for the season as you celebrate this year.
OT: I challenge each family that gathers for Christmas to read the Christmas story together on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. You can find it in the Holy Bible, book of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1 through 20.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to email@example.com.