Crash victim with disability raged against the dying of the light

Kevin Taylor Jefcoate wanted to change perceptions of disability. He was killed on June 22 in a crash in North Canterbury.
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Kevin Taylor Jefcoate wanted to change perceptions of disability. He was killed on June 22 in a crash in North Canterbury.

Kevin Taylor Jefcoate fought for every one of his 25 years, before an accident snatched his life from him.

He was renowned for his winning smile and positivity.

As a young man living with a disability, he had found his way to contribute to society and was working to change perceptions through blogging.

On June 22, Jefcoate, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at age 4, was killed when a technical failure caused the van he was travelling in to lose control and roll onto its roof about 12.40pm on Monday.

The 25-year-old, from Waikuku Beach, was travelling with his caregiver to get blood tests done when they crashed at the intersection of Harris and Gressons roads, near Woodend. His caregiver, who "helped him so he could live life", had only been with him a few weeks.

"They had become very close friends but that was no surprise because everyone who met him did," mum Debbie Jefcoate said.

Her son knew his condition, which was characterised by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness, would eventually take his life. The family had been told he had a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years.

Last year, he found solace in blogging.

"He discovered a talent we didn't know he had," his mother said.

It started as a cathartic way to share his emotions and get him through the highs and lows of living with the condition.

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"I'm going to fight the bastard all the way down. I'll leave this world kicking (haha) and screaming. If this is a fight to the death, I will not go gentle into that good night and I will rage against the dying of the light," Kevin Jefcoate wrote in his fourth and final published post.

He had worked on a new post last week after a string of blows that kept him away from his computer and unable to write.

"I'd like to change views of disability. I feel it is time for disability to be normalised. I want less sympathy and more understanding. I don't want pity. I want acceptance," he wrote in his unpublished post.

Jefcoate wanted to become "self sufficient" and worked a few unpaid hours at the family's holiday park in Waikuku.

"One of the things that he hated was the feeling that he wasn't able to make the kind of contribution he wanted to make because of the limitations that he had," Debbie Jefcoate said.

"He was finding his own way to overcome it."

Kevin Jefcoate broke both his legs in November 2014 after losing his balance and toppling from his power chair.

In January, he was able to get his left leg out of a cast. His right leg remained in a moon boot.

He made a couple of starts on his latest blog before suffering a stroke on May 8, followed by a second stroke two days later. 

"He has had the year from . . . but he just kept on coming back," Debbie Jefcoate said.

After the strokes, he met with CCS Disability Action to look into ways he could volunteer with the organisation.

"Kevin always managed to find a positive. He had an incredibly difficult path in life and he just kept on plugging until he found a way to get around the obstacles."

He was born in Arkanas, in the United States, and was his state's goodwill ambassador for disability in 2002.

His mother said it would make him "very happy" to know he had made an impact on many lives and been an inspiration to others.

 - The Press

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