MIDDLETOWN, N.J. -  On the evening of August 8, 2017, friends and family members of Kevin Kret as well as lots of new faces, joined together on a beautiful summer evening for the annual 'Walk the Walk' with Kevin Kret, held at the Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) Arena, 850 Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, NJ.

The crowd of approximately 170 adults, teens, young children and a few happy dogs gathered to walk with Kevin, listen to a medical update and pray with and for Kevin as he continues his journey of rehabilitation and hope, after suffering a traumatic brain injury 8 years ago from a skateboarding accident.  The crowd gathered, there were a lot of hugs, conversations, love and laughter. Before the walk started Brother Frank from CBA gave an opening welcome which was then followed by the National Anthem, sung by talented local teen Rebecca Ryann. Everyone then lined up around and behind Kevin and the lap around the horse arena at CBA began. After a lap around the arena,  the crowd gathered for an update regarding Kevin's health and current therapy programs. This was followed by a brief talk by Dr. Patricia Morton of Rutgers University, concerning research in the field of umbilicial cord stem cells, and its potential as a treatment for those with brain and spinal cord injuries. The event culminated with Kevin's dad Michael Kret leading everyone in praying the rosary together. It was beautiful.

Three words immediately come to mind to describe the event: Hope Faith and Love. Fittingly, the Kret family defines these words; Kevin, his parents Joan and Michael, his siblings Megan, Jenny and Dylan-- all represent the power and strength and true meaning of family. When you are around the Kret family, you experience the purest form of those three simple, elegant and powerful words. For those who could not be present, Kevin's father Michael has created a website to publish Kevin's story--Kevin's 'Journey of Hope'...it's a story for Kevin and it is a story for his family. It is also a story with deep meaning that is very much...for you.

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'Journey of Hope' written by Kevin's father Michael, is the story of Kevin Kret, a young man with a promising future. Kevin described by so many as a handsome gentle soul, with a curly head of red hair and fit physique, someone who knows how to be a great friend, follows the beat of his own drum, never falling prey to the flavor of the day. Kevin is described by many as a leader.  Kevin is a graduate of Saint Leo the Great School and CBA and had just successfully completed his first year at the University of Villanova and was home for summer break when he fell off of a skateboard, after hitting debris in the road near his Middletown home. This fall resulted in a traumatic brain injury directly to his brain stem.  The brain stem is a critical area that controls some of the most basic life functions such as breathing, temperature, heart rate and consciousness.  Kevin was left non-communicative and what appeared to be unconscious.  Through a miraculous set of circumstances God spared Kevin’s life.  His time had not yet come.  Clearly, God had other plans for Kevin. What those plans would be we could only imagine. Kevin although he is in a semi conscious state and is aware of what is going on around him, has been unable to communicate with his family and friends since that skateboard accident in July 2009. 

'Journey of Hope' is a story of a family's love, it is about finding hope and allowing our faith to sustain us.  With Traumatic Brain Injury, the goals are often small steps, but major victories; a thumbs up, an eye movement, or a swallow. Kevin's father says, " While we truly believe that through prayer and advances in science Kevin will one day “wake up”, our initial goal was to bring Kevin home in spite of the many challenges, and that is the focus of Part 1 of Kevin’s Journey of Hope – Going Home." (From the website http://www.kevinsjoh.com)

A 2017 Message from Joan and Mike (Kevin's parents)

"With your support Kevin has made great progress in the past year.   With the money from last years walk and Jerry Conway’s annual “Paddling for Kevin” event, we purchased a new exercise bike that lets Kevin pedal on his own when he can.   We found that he will sometimes take over the cycling with his left leg (amazing).  With professionals who frequently spend  time with Kevin like Dr. Bob Incitti (Kevin’s PT) and Frankie Locicero (Kevin’s  trainer) Kevin works out on a regular basis.  Using muscle stimulation and commercial equipment such as the Total Gym and Bowflex, Kevin has a regular workout complete with leg squats, lat pull downs, as well as arm curls and presses.  

We took Kevin back to Weill Cornell to do extensive testing and imaging of his brain in May.  We were hoping that things remained stable since the last time we were there.  We were ecstatic to learn that his brain continues to repair and reorganize.  We plan to work with Weill Cornell to help develop and test new Brain Computer Interfaces that are still in the research phase. 

On the Cord Blood Stem Cell front we continue to work with Dr. Wise Young who attended last year’s 2016 walk and God willing we hope to have a clinical trial designed to help Kevin in the next year. 

If you would like to follow Kevin’s progress visit:  www.kevinsjoh.com.  On that site you can view the on-line book called “Journey of Hope – Going Home.”

So what’s next?  Hopefully some significant breakthroughs for Kevin with non-controversial umbilical cord blood stems cell and brain computer interfaces in the coming year.   "We really appreciate your support and prayers. May God Bless you all," --Joan and Mike Kret

If you were unable to make the walk and would like to make a donation to help cover  therapy costs for Kevin, you can write the check out to ‘Kevin’s Journey of Hope' and mail it to 21 Newland Place, Aberdeen, NJ 07747 or donate at www.gofundme.com/kevinkret . This is not a tax deductible donation.

Thank you for sharing your steps on this walk of Faith, Hope and Love.