Kevin persevered and slowly recovered from a catastrophic, traumatic brain injury, 16 hours of brain surgery over two days, a 75-day coma, myriad life-threatening complications and a four month hospital stay in 1994. He was working during Spring break from Baldwin Wallace University when a co-worker cut a tree down that crushed his skull and spine, but not his spirit. Injuries included paralysis of his right side, loss of half his vision in each eye, aphasia resulting in a mere 10-word vocabulary, difficulty swallowing and severe hearing loss.
But, he slowly managed to re-learn his name, the alphabet, and how to eat, talk, read, stand, walk and learn after more than 3000 therapy sessions, private tutoring, and vocational rehabilitation.
The following local news story early on in Kevin’s recovery won an award for the talented WKYC-TV reporter, Monica Robins…
For several years Kevin practiced with two music therapists and studied under his former mentor and touring percussionist, Professor Tom Fries, to once again play drums. While strengthening the paralyzed half of his body, The Kevin Reed Band first entertained at local rehabilitation facilities. As his coordination improved, venues expanded to local clubs a couple of times a month.
In 2001, Kevin, with the help of his brother Craig, composed, performed and recorded with The College of Wooster Percussion Ensemble, the Odyssey – a suite exploring brain injury in four movements: Injury, Coma, Rehabilitation and Celebration of Life.
Today, the Kevin Reed Band is in hiatus with Kevin cutting back to freelancing occasionally with Christian praise groups.
He designed, patented, builds and sells nationally the Trash Kat series of drums through his drum work shop, the ThunderEcho Drum Company which was formed in 2001.
Endorsements include Adrian Young (No Doubt), Carmine Appice (Rock legend), Will Calhoun (Living Colour), John Mahon (Elton John), Eric Darken (ACM award recipient), Recycled Percussion (Las Vegas), Hanna Ford Welton (Prince), and many others. A Trash Kat has been on exhibit at both the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Cleveland. The Trash Kat drum has even been heard on Keith Urban and Bon Jovi CDs and movie soundtracks as well.
Kevin’s love of all things Mopar has only intensified over the years. He is restoring a 1968 Dodge Monaco 500 and has completed a 1968 Dodge Polara convertible, similar to the one he drove all through high school. Out of spare parts he even built a running engine, diagnostic stand to test vintage Mopar engines independently of a vehicle.
Kevin and his mom, Jane, continue to give presentations about ability to physical therapy groups, and nonprofits; and percussion demonstrations at schools and community events. Annually they engage campers in a drum craft workshop at the ARC of Medina County, Ohio/MRDD Camp Paradise.
In spite of Kevin’s significant, residual disabilities affecting his entire being, involving hearing, speaking, coordination, aphasia, gait and balance, he continues to shatter the stereotype about a person’s capabilities after catastrophic brain injury.
Kevin may still be labeled disabled, but not when he is behind a drum kit, designing and building percussion instruments or tinkering in his garage.