Kevin Krause turned to education to give his life meaning

Published on Saturday, February 9, 2019

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Kevin Krause turned to education to give his life meaning

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Kevin Krause is a graduate of USC Upstate where he now teaches. He earned his Ph. D.in history from the University of Georgia.

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Kevin Krause is a graduate of USC Upstate where he now teaches. He earned his Ph. D.in history from the University of Georgia.



Editor’s Note: Today’s story on Kevin Krause is the first of a bi-monthly feature by Brian Peahuff to share inspirational, powerful stories about people who have overcome life-changing events and are now making contributions in our communities. We will also be reporting issues that affect our disabled society.


Kevin Krause was on top of the world and planning to marry the woman of his dreams on the afternoon of July 3, 2000 in Richmond, Va.

 His world turned upside down later that day when he dived into a friend’s swimming pool, hit his head on the bottom breaking his neck, and thus began the struggle of his life – just to stay alive.

Friends brought Kevin to the deck where his fiancé, who he had proposed to the day before, flipped his lifeless body over and saved him from drowning.

 “(After I dived in) it seemed like I was down there forever,” said Kevin, who was one week shy from celebrating his 24th birthday. “It was very scary. There were several seconds there that I thought that I was going to drown. I think drowning or burning is probably anyone’s worst fear. When she flipped me over that’s when everything got real. I could see my feet floating in front of me, but it didn’t feel like I was looking at my feet.”

Kevin was airlifted to the Medical College of Virginia. The diagnosis – a crushed C5 cervical vertebra.

Kevin’s parents got the news while at their Greer home. Kevin graduated Greer High School in 1994. His father, Maxie, was a football coach at the school and his mother, Linda, was a librarian/media specialist there for 30 years.

“I think he was injured around two that afternoon, but we weren’t called until about seven that evening,” said Linda. “I think they wanted to see how everything was going before they gave us any news. Within five minutes after getting to the hospital near midnight, we were told that he would never walk again. After getting that phone call, everything felt like a dream.”

Surgery was performed to fuse Kevin’s C4-C6 vertebrae with a titanium cage. Kevin is a quadriplegic and has no movement or sensation below his chest. He has limited movement in his arms, but can’t use his hands.

“I think the most depressing aspect was simply the fact that I had no idea how life was supposed to happen without the function of most of the physical body and basic independence,” Kevin said. “The so-called normal capabilities of standing, walking, using one’s hands and so forth, were abilities I had never truly appreciated. I took them for granted.

“After being injured, though, all of that was thrown out the window,” Kevin said. “All of the assumptions I had about the future that I had previously enjoyed subconsciously were obliterated. This new situation was completely uncertain, frightening, and deeply saddening because of what seemed to be a loss of so many possibilities.” 

He stayed a month in Virginia and rehabbed three months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

“I thought that if I could just get out of the hospital and get home everything would be better,” Kevin, 42, said. “But after being at home for a while, it got very depressing just thinking about my bleak future.”

College was Kevin’s answer to giving his life meaning and purpose. He entered the University at South Carolina Upstate in 2004, with credits already earned, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in History. He earned his Master’s in History from Clemson in 2008.

“When I decided to go back to college, the idea of future employment was honestly a non-factor,” Kevin said. “That was too distant and unrealistic to seriously consider. I was going to school simply to have something to do and for the challenge it presented in itself. It was only after actually being in school that I started thinking about the possibility of graduate school and teaching.” 

The University of Georgia accepted Kevin and five years later (2014), he graduated with a Doctoral Degree in History. Maxie drove his son to classes at Georgia several times a week. “I’d do anything for him,” Maxie said. “There were a lot of long days. We would leave early in the morning and get back in the evening, sometimes, but it was all worth it. He has overcome some real adversity and his mother and I couldn’t be any prouder.”

 Kevin is an adjunct professor at Upstate – he began in 2012 while attending Georgia – teaching two classes, two days a week. Kevin also spends two days a week tutoring third and fourth graders at Chandler Creek Elementary.

“There are not enough words to say how thankful I am,” Kevin said. “None of this would have been possible without the support of everyone around me. I hope that I’m able to teach and tutor for a long time, because I love making an impact on people’s lives.”

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