ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Kendric and Kenyada Tyler were on what many would consider the trip of a lifetime to Puerto Rico this past May when their lives were changed forever: Kendric, defending his wife from an armed robber, sustained a near-fatal gunshot wound that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Photo courtesy of Kenyada Tyler.
"Instead of my husband proceeding after him to get him, he ran back to me," Kenyada said, "and that's when the guy pointed the gun at me, but my husband stepped in front and caught it."
The couple had sought solace in the island territory, taking part in a cruise in honor of their first wedding anniversary and a delayed honeymoon, too. Their new normal, though, is far from a vacation.
"It's been heartbreaking," Kenyada said. "We've had our days when it's been really hard. My husband can't do anything for himself; can't scratch his head, can't feed himself, can't do anything. But our faith is what keeps us strong, because we know, it won't always be like this."
The severe injuries Kendric suffered in the shooting - including a severed spinal cord - left him paralyzed from the neck down, but Kenyada, her family and friends are holding out hope.
"We've seen some sensation and a little movement," she said, "but we definitely have a long way to go."
At the same time, she said, even the smallest signs are full of hope and promise.
"We take those little achievements and we say, 'Okay, this is hope,'" she said. "This is something that may not be fully functioning right now, but we know that in the future it possibly can. And it will.
"Our faith is what's encouraging us," she said, "and that's what we're going off of: The report of the Lord."
For now, Kendric remains at a rehabilitation center in Atlanta, Georgia, while Kenyada tries to pick up the pieces of their life in Alaska before she departs the Last Frontier for the Lower 48. She's leaving to help Kendric in his recovery.
"He has his days where he's crying, he's having a bad day, but at the same time, our good days outweigh our bad," Kenyada said of Kendric. "His spirit is amazing; he's encouraging people who are in better situations than him."
Kenyada has long been a local business owner in Anchorage, but will be selling all of the couple's belongings - everything except her wedding ring, she said - to help cover costs of living, Kendric's treatment and his daily rehabilitation sessions in Atlanta. Items from clothing to cars to wedding goods and everything in between will be available at Northway Mall this Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
"It's unspeakable," Kenyada said. "It's crazy to be able to smile at a time where you don't know what tomorrow holds. Don't know what your future is going to be like."
"But one thing we do know is that something beautiful is going to come from this situation," she said. "We just have to ride it out."
You can also contribute to the family's crowdsourcing fundraiser by clicking here.