Local teen battles for his life; uses one “wish” to help others

SHARPSVILLE, Ind. – You can find all types of typical coffee flavors at “Chad’s Café,” although it doesn’t take long to realize – this café is anything but typical.

The mobile café is currently inside Tri-Central High School. It exists to help students and staff in a number of ways, but the most extraordinary thing about it – is the story behind the 16 year old who started it all.

Chad Keown was born with multiple heart defects. He’s had three open heart surgeries, among other surgeries. His family says the scariest moment though, came in December of 2015.

“Chad was coughing up blood,” Chad’s mom Lisa said.

Doctors found out Chad had a hemorrhage in his lungs. At the hospital, he flat lined.

“He was clinically dead for 35 to 40 minutes,” Lisa said.

Considered clinically dead, and brought back to life, Chad was left with a brain injury and had to have part of his lungs removed. Doctors sent the Keowns to Hospice Care.

“They told us we needed to figure out the quality of life we wanted for Chad, because he would be bed ridden and on a ventilator for the rest of his life,” Lisa said.

But Lisa and her husband knew – Chad had been a fighter from the beginning.

“We wanted to give Chad a fighting chance and put it in God’s hands,” Lisa said.

Slowly but surely, Chad started getting better, learning to walk, talk and eat all over again. It was then, doctors sent him to the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund.

“We said, you get a wish, were do you wanna go? And chad said, I want to pay it forward. I want to give it back to my school, they supported me in my time of need,” Lisa said.

“I said, I don’t want a moment, I want to leave a legacy,” Chad said.

Chad wanted to create a mobile coffee cart that could also be used as a teaching tool: A cafe designed to help special education students learn valuable skills for work and life.

“It’s allowed our kids collaborate together and work together to get real life and real world job skills,” said Special Education teacher Linda Baird.

As Chad brings his peers together through the café, he’s still working hard on his recovery. But Chad insists he’s only warming up!

Chad hopes to take Chad’s Café out to sporting events and into the community. He even has a bigger goal of sharing this coffee cart idea with other schools, so they can create a program for special education students as well.

“I think I’ll overcome it and walk again. Don’t look back, always move forward. Moving forward is the key to the future,” Chad said.