Couple volunteers overseas as part of Grass Valley practice, Life Chiropractic
Address: 1200 East Main Street, Grass Valley
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Born and bred in Nevada County, Shannon Kennard was on a typical foothills life trajectory — Nevada Union High School, then Sierra College. After graduation she trained to become a florist. But somewhere along the line she got the urge to take a drastically different path that would eventually lead her into the slums of India and behind the prison walls of San Quentin State Prison.
Drawn to the field of healing, Kennard enrolled at Life Chiropractic College West in Hayward to earn a doctorate degree. During her last term, she was thrilled to have finally reached the stage where she could work directly with patients.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to graduate soon — I want to get the experience of treating as many people as I possibly can,’” she said. “Hands-on experience with a broad variety of people is definitely the most valuable training.”
She learned about a service trip coordinated through her school designed to expand chiropractic treatment in India. In a country with a population of more than 1 billion that is struggling to address its staggering poverty, millions can go their whole lives having never seen a doctor. Recognizing a need and an opportunity to educate, mentor and shape the understanding of chiropractic care in India, Life Chiropractic College West, Kennard’s school, teamed up with the India Association of Chiropractic Doctors and The Sant Nirankari Mission to provide a major service retreat twice a year, which draws more than 1.5 million people to a “temporary city” over a three day period. This was Kennard’s chance to get valuable hands-on experience.
The scale of the massive bi-annual event is astounding, as it requires at least 60,000 volunteer staff members. Working alongside other volunteer health practitioners, the chiropractic tent continues to grown exponentially with each service trip, and so does the need for chiropractors. Kennard and other students had the opportunity to work with experienced chiropractors to provide care for thousands of people daily.
“The adjusting days are very long. You will be taking care of people all day and well into the evening,” stated Kennard’s application form. “You need to be fit and healthy and capable of taking care of many people per hour. You will be provided with fluids and meals. The level of gratitude and appreciation you will receive from the patients will be unlike anything you have ever experienced.”
Once she got there, it didn’t take long for Kennard to understand just how accurate the information in the application was.
CAN’T HELP BUT HELP
“When I first got to India it was overwhelming — the density of the population, the poor air quality, the poverty,” she said. “So many people with disabilities everywhere. But the beautiful and gracious attitude of the people was life changing. That first trip I worked on hundreds of people, ranging in age from several days old to over 100. I was sore and exhausted by the end of each day, but it fed my mind and spirit, so I was still filled with energy. The people were so grateful and I learned so much from each patient.”
By that time, Kennard had been bitten by the service bug. Four months later she went back to India, this time to Mumbai, to volunteer services to even more patients in need. In the Bay Area, she also had the opportunity to accompany licensed chiropractors into San Quentin State Prison to offer health talks and treatment. Hundreds of inmates were waiting in line, said Kennard, who hopes to go back in the future.
Back at school in Hayward, Kennard had a chance meeting with a visiting chiropractic student, Chris Cedars, who was studying in Iowa but working as a chiropractic intern in Nevada City, her home town. Before long, they were dating.
After graduating from school they decided to pack up and leave for India together to practice at an orthopedic hospital in New Delhi. They stayed for six months — which included two more intensive service retreats — before taking off to explore more of the country they had grown to love. While exploring the Himalayan mountain range, home to many of the earth’s highest peaks, Cedars proposed.
“In India, people have no limiting beliefs about the mind/body connection,” said Cedars. “They are poor, so few can afford drugs. Even people in excruciating pain do not have access to medication. I treated one man who had not spoken for multiple years. He got adjusted every day I was there, and by the end of the week he spoke. His whole family was in tears. Emotional stress can stick with you for years — in your body. Another patient who had been deaf in one ear started hearing again. We worked two or three tables at a time at these service events. Sometimes there were more than a thousand people in line outside.”
BACK HOME AGAIN
Kennard and Cedars are now back in Nevada County, and have a 19-month-old son, Cassius. They plan to marry at the end of May. The duo opened Life Chiropractic on East Main Street in Grass Valley in January and are now busy treating babies, children, adults and the elderly. Cedars has also been trained in treating animals. While chiropractic does not replace traditional veterinary medicine, it can often eliminate the source of acute or chronic pain syndromes, he said.
More overseas service trips are definitely in the couple’s future, but for now they are grateful to treat patients and raise a family in the foothills.
“It’s rewarding to be around people everyday who truly appreciate what we do,” said Cedars. “On a weekly basis people thank us for improving the quality of their lives with our knowledge and our hands. It’s wonderful to watch them change their paradigm when it comes to health — to see the truth about their body, spine and nervous system.”
“Everything you need is already within you — your body just needs to communicate to itself properly,” echoed Kennard. “It feels good to put ourselves out there, with no ego, and share information that could change someone’s life forever. One man’s pain is no big deal to the world, but to that man, it means the world. An older man recently told us that after several treatments he was able to hold his grandchild for the first time.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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