Kenny Wants To Dance…

A good friend of mine Gary Gresham called me the other day and told me about Kenny Strong. It is amazing that Kenny’s last name is Strong, because that defines him to a T. He is strong in the Lord, he is Strong about fighting for his life and he is Strong about loving God. Where he is not strong is in his body.

Kenneth Strong was born August 4, 1985. He was not healthy shortly after birth and tests would reveal that he was born with Centro Nuclear Myotubular Myopathy, the rarest form of Muscular Dystrophy.  The doctors told his heartbroken parents that Kenny probably would not live out the first year of his life. But God had other plans for Kenny’s life.

In spite of all odds, Kenny made it through the year. But then tragedy struck, his father, Ken Strong Sr., passed away from cancer when Kenny was 18 months old. The burden that Kenny’s mother faced was overwhelming, losing her husband and being told her son would soon die was overwhelming for Gaye. Gaye and her son Kenny were facing pain, sadness, and hardship that few in this life have to endure.  They had only a year of continued insurance coverage available and then they would be without support, on their own, if Kenny even lived that long. The prospect of that must have frightened for a young mother, widowed, with a very sick young child. She believed God for a miracle in spite of all the odds, she believed that he might live. 

Government programs available would offer some medical assistance but had no provision for nursing, only attendant care.  Some of the procedures Kenny required had to be administered by nurses so this would not work.

As the months passed Kenny had severe health issues accompanying the MD, but Kenny proved to be a fighter, and with his mother’s love and support he continued to survive. It seemed he was always in the hospital, but like his last name he was strong, he would survive. Kenny entered Dallas Children’s Hospital with pneumonia one day before his insurance coverage from his father’s policy expired. 

Gaye knew she had no way to provide for him at home and there were no nursing homes or other facilities that offered the range of needs it would take to keep Kenny alive.  She fought to keep Kenny in the hospital for the next seven months.  Gaye took care of Kenny during the day at the hospital and Children’s provided nursing care at night.

Once again like his name he was strong, he fought and survived. Twenty four years have now passed and Kenny is still here. Kenny, through the Grace of God and the incredible love of his Mother, Gaye Karr, was able to celebrate his 24th birthday on August 4, 2009.  Kenny requires 24/7/365 care. He is confined to either his bed or wheelchair, breathing with the assistance of a ventilator. However, Kenny has chosen to live a happy and fun-filled life.  Kenny was able to obtain his high school education.  He has furthered it with the computer and instructive television.  Kenny also loves to watch movies and sports on TV.  He loves music and is an authority on naming the artist after a few notes. 

God is the center of Kenny’s life. Faith and prayer, kindness and compassion for others fill his every waking thought.  He is very active in his church, as he shares his love.  He dreams of the future.  He believes he can make a difference in people’s lives.  With a dream in mind to help others, Kenny’s Kids was formed. Kenny’s vision is being realized in a 40 acre ranch called the Soaring Eagle Ranch, a ranch were children’s lives can be changed, God’s love realized and hopes and dreams fulfilled.

I don’t think when I take a breath; it is an unconscious effort on my part. Kenny needs a machine to breath. If I itch, I scratch it. But Kenny can’t even perform these, the simplest of human motions. But let me tell you what he can do that many of us can’t. He can talk to God in a way that God hears him, and he hears God, in a way that I am sure touches even the heart of our Lord.

I made a call today to Gary, and with his mother’s assistance I was able to ask Kenny some questions. Even though I was not able to understand Kenny, Gary and his mother were, and they relayed to me what he saying. I was in tears at various times during the interview.

I asked Kenny what he would tell my readers if he could speak to them. He answered…”Receive your salvation…everything is in your salvation…Look at you life and focus on it, there is hope. Until you are with Christ you can’t see hope”.

I asked him; when you meet God, what are you going to say to him? He says, “I will tell him that He is an awesome God, a beautiful God, and I am in love with Him”.

I then asked him my last question. Kenny if you had one wish you could ask of God and you knew it would be immediately granted, what would you ask for? His answer brought tears to my eyes. Kenny says ”I would wish that I could speak so others could understand me, so I could be a missionary and tell of God’s love to others that they might know Him. And if I could speak, I would be able to sing, oh how I wish I could sing about God. But what would you ask God for yourself I inquired. There was a pause and he answered,” I would like to be able to dance so I could dance before my Lord”. I paused, caught my breath, I was crying.

Kenny Strong’s story has touched my heart, blessed my soul and made me look deep inside myself to be the kind of man before God that Kenny is. I asked God to give me Kenny’s love for Him that I might know Him more. Kenny dream is to develop 40 acres of the Soaring Eagle Ranch, into a recreational area for children. Kenny’s Kids, Inc. will be developing the Soaring Eagle Ranch into an area that provides special needs/abused children an opportunity to be a part of the “Texas experience”. There are very few entertainment areas that are truly accessible to these children. They trail ride by the longhorn cattle to a western town where they will be entertained with music, chuck wagon food and a play. Theywill use the funds along with other donations to complete the construction of a reception center, the western town, and restroom and emergency medical facilities. They will be encouraged to have hope for the future. 

A more complete description can be viewed on www.kennyskids.org. This is Kenny’s dream.

Pepsi has stepped up to the plate to assist with the Refresh Everything Project. Pepsi took an interest in Kenny and he has been added to their contest, but to win they need enough votes to receive the funds to make Kenny’s dream become a reality. You can vote for Kenny at http://www.refresheverything.com/kennyskids. Simply register vote for Kenny, you can vote once every day, please do so. Kenny started at # 124 and is now at 61. Please take the time to make Kenny’s dream come true, and vote for Kenny’s kids. Pepsi is looking for people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive impact, to look around your community and think about how you want to change it. That’s Kenny. Hear Kennys story on CBS news at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcdSZ041E6U

If you have any questions you can email Gary at ggresham@kennyskids.org. Add Kenny as a friend on Facebook at Kenny Strong.

Let’s help Kenny’s dream become a reality, and one day to the glory of God, Kenny will dance.

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4 replies

  1. Kenny was one of my patients when he was just a little guy just prior to his father’s death. I will never forget him. The one thing your article does not talk about is the reason Kenny was able to stay at Children’s for so long. It was due to a true advocate he had at that time,Dr Richard B. Silver. The hospital wanted to send him home without nursing care and Dr Silver would not have it. He told the hospital if they would not pay for home care he would not discharge Kenny. Dr Silver went to war to protect Kenny and his mother during a very difficult time. God calls many to serve the least of these, but few answer. Dr Silver has answered that call for children in this community time after time. For almost 30 years he has done this with no recognition. Kenny’s story is of Gods love and it is so precious. Dr Silver’s story is about love and the work of God which has great value and needs to be told so that when we are called to service we will be encourage to answer that call. Faith without works is dead. There are thousands of Kenny’s just in this part of the world but they are invisible. They live in hospital beds and wheelchairs in a bedroom or nursing home all over this community with no advocate. I know my Lord has called his children to serve but many times no one answers.

  2. Its all as beautiful as it is sad………..

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