SUCCESS® Coaching™ Podcast
SUCCESS® Coaching Podcast
Dec. 17, 2021

Kevin Hoover - Hug Your People: A Family’s RV Journey Across America Helping Kids with Cancer, One Wagon At a Time

Kevin Hoover - Hug Your People: A Family’s RV Journey Across America Helping Kids with Cancer, One Wagon At a Time

Kevin Hoover lived most of his professional life thinking that he would be happy when the next thing happens. The promotion, the raise, the market changes. The joy always seemed to be around the next corner. 

In 2019, Kevin's 4 year old son Baxley was diagnosed with stage IV cancer & the world stopped.  Everything that was once important became trivial.  Kevin's perspective and purpose changed.  Baxley beat cancer and now Kevin, and his wife Suzanne, operate a business from an RV that the family drives around America to help other kids who are fighting cancer.

Kevin and Suzanne created a non profit that is called HYP! - Hug Your People & they have a goal to generate $1 million per year to help kids & their families. They give kids with cancer and their families a safe space when they are thrown into an unfamiliar world. They do this by giving kids a wagon, assisting families getting to and from treatment and funding pediatric cancer research.

Hug Your People was something that Kevin and his family said to other people and to themselves. It was an innocent request for his family to let each other know that they needed a hug. As they said it to other people as a reminder, it started to catch on. Before you knew it, Baxley had inspired a movement of kind hearted people to care a little more about the people around them. It would become the very organization that Kevin's family is working on today.

Follow Kevin on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/kevin.hoover.399
Follow HYP! - Hug Your People on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/HugYourPeople/
Find out more about HYP! - Hug Your People
https://hugyourpeople.org/
Read Baxley's Story
https://hugyourpeople.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/story.pdf
Learn more about Coaching with Kevin
https://kevinhoovercoaching.lpages.co/

Episode Transcript
https://www.successcoachingpodcast.com/kevin-hoover-hug-your-people-a-familys-rv-journey-across-america-helping-kids-with-cancer-one-wagon-at-a-time/#transcript
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Transcript
Voiceover:

Welcome to the SUCCESS Coaching Podcast. On today's episode, our guest, Kevin Hoover, shares his own personal journey to success. Because success is a journey, not a destination. Here's the hosts of the SUCCESS Coaching Podcast, Todd Foster, Alyssa Stanley and Kelley Skar.

Alyssa Stanley:

Welcome back to the SUCCESS Coaching Podcast. My name is Alyssa Stanley and as always I'm co hosting with Todd Foster and Kelley Skar. Today we are humbled to have Kevin Hoover joining us from the infamous HYP! RV which is the command center for all things Kevin Hoover. Kevin is a real estate agent with eXp, Founder of Hug Your People, creator RLI Framework, which focuses on relationships, income and legacy. He is an author and podcast host called Beyond Business which focuses on business beyond the spreadsheet. Most importantly, he is a husband and father who has an incredibly inspirational story that began when his four year old son was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Every parent's worst nightmare. From that moment on their life was impacted. Yet they are currently on a mission to create positive impact in 1 million families every year, across the world battling cancer. Kevin, we are so humbled to have you here with us today.

Kevin Hoover:

Thank you so much, it's quite an honor.

Alyssa Stanley:

So I genuinely believe in my soul that every bad situation gives you the opportunity to create positive shifts in your life, some do it some leave it, and some won't see it. But your family's ability to shift and pivot in such a life altering situation really resonates with me and my family, which is why I followed you for so long. Although we didn't face cancer, my family was rocked with having to really pick up with what once was and rebuild what will be. I would love for us to start this podcast with you sharing a little bit of the backstory of HYP! and how it came to be.

Kevin Hoover:

I'd love to really, the the timeline is in question because when you're going through something like we went through, piecing together the facts is kind of tough, but luckily, through social media, we're able to share and kind of go back and kind of decide when it came up. So HYP! is basically it's our nonprofit is called Hug Your People. From the time of inception to now we are now officially a 501 C three, so officially recognized nonprofit, with all the powers that be but my son was diagnosed in 2019. He was a week before he was diagnosed, he was airlifted with total kidney failure and a tumor in his abdomen. So we went in for a normal checkup, if your parents you know, the kind of things you know, tummy aches and things like that. And so we were just trying to get a sense of which medication we needed. There was no preparation, no mention of tumor or cancer up to that point. And we went in at 7am. And by 11am, we were in the NICU with all the doctors around us trying to learn what was going to happen next. So it was very much you're thrust into this environment that no one wants to be in, you're thrust into a club that no one wants to join. And you got to figure it out. And so looking back, you know, it was early on everything that we do has been at the idea of my son. So the idea of hug your people came about, we're not sure when it came about, we do know that within seven or eight days of us being diagnosed, there was a post that said, hug your people. And there was a graphic that said, hug your people. And so it really just came very, very early on in the game. And we didn't know what it meant at that point. We didn't we didn't pursue it. We didn't. It was just kind of the this thing that we said. And then as we progress with our treatment and things started working, it just became the thing. And I asked and you know, as we do as people in business, I asked social media, you know, if you think of me, what do you think of? And it was just this flood of hugger people. Everyone just said, hug your people and I. So it was really at that point that it became very intentional of a movement of inspiration of hope of my son kind of reaching across the digital lines and saying, Hey, let me let me let me help you. Let me give you some motivation. So it started very early. And then it became more intentional as we went. And then today, it's it's our legacy. It's something that will be the reason I was put here on Earth. And that means a lot to me. It really does.

Todd Foster:

You're told, hey, by the way, your son or daughter or child has cancer.

Kevin Hoover:

Yeah.

Todd Foster:

When you're told that, what's the first thing you thought about?

Kevin Hoover:

There's been a mistake.

Todd Foster:

How long did you go through the denial period before you and your wife said, okay, you know what, this is real?

Kevin Hoover:

Well, oddly enough, our diagnosis came on April 1 of 2019, April Fool's Day. So we're sitting in a room full of tenured oncologist, nurses and in my brain I'm going My dad really got me on this one. And this far, this is an April Fool's joke that has gone way over the line, you know. And so I'm still in that moment of this is not real this is we don't belong here, the that's the thought that's going through your head. And then very quickly, you realize that's not what it is. And we've got some serious choices to make. And we've got some serious education and educational mountain to climb. To make, you know, my son was four at the time, he's, he's six now. So you're making decisions for a four year old, they can't make them themselves. And so you have to really learn. And so the denial period, it felt like it lasted a long time. From the time of me saying, this is a big April Fool's joke to the time of us deciding on a protocol for treatment. I don't know how long it wasn't, it was hours, not days. You know, and so, so it really lasted a very small amount of time, because you don't, you don't have time to stay in that very long not because I chose it, or I mindset of myself out of it, or I knew what to do. It's just you don't have a choice, you have to force yourself out of that and start making decisions and start doing things. You know, PET scans, MRIs, biopsies, you know, chemo like, what kind of chemo clinical trials do you sign off on this? Like, it's just this onslaught. And so the denial period lasted a very short amount of time, because you just have to get into action, you have to do something. And so it forces you out of that.

Todd Foster:

How did you remain patient during that time? Because it seems like you have a test done, and the results seem like they take years and years and years. So you're on pins and needles, waiting for the results. So how did you keep your mindset in the right place, if you were able to at that time, waiting for test results after test result after test result?

Kevin Hoover:

I think the week between being airlifted in the week between official diagnosis was probably the longest in my life, because you're battling the unknown, you just don't know. And so to say that there are no breakdowns in that week would be a lie, you know, there are dark moments, you're basically thrown into a tunnel. So every you know, being being a coach being, you know, in real estate, you know, I'm used to kind of looking at the positive, and I have the resources available to control my mindset, but I wasn't ready for this at all. This was a deep dive into patients, controlling where you control, trying to stay positive, and the darkest situation I've ever experienced in my life. You know, having the the grace to be annoyed when someone says, To shake it off, or you should just go take a break. It's like you don't get a break, you know. And so, it was really that that week was probably the longest and then, you know, after that we went 70 weeks of treatment of rollercoaster ride. So we really exercise that muscle, there is no I don't think there's a method to say, here's what I did. And it works. I think it's moment by moment, you know, every day you wake up and you say, Where am I today? How do I feel? You have to assess, you know, what's going on? You know, am I in the right spot mentally? Am I in the right spot, am I focused on the right things. And so it really was every single day reminding yourself that you've got a choice. And in my situation, it was how I showed up is how Baxley showed up how my son showed up. So I had to really make that strong choice even when I feel like it. And that's something that really was, I think that's what built the muscle, you know, my perspective today and the things that I work around, were definitely shaped by that 70 weeks of everyday taking an assessment, making a choice, and then constantly doing that throughout the day. You know, because at any minute someone walks in and drops a bomb on ya.

Kelley Skar:

I'm super interested to learn about how you you take this experience in this mindset. And, you know, put that into your coaching business but before and how you can kind of coach your clients around this without obviously them having experienced what you've gone through. But before we get there, I'm curious about, you know, the seven stages of grief. Did you did you feel like you ripped through those steps at seven stages over a very short period of time, but the battle kind of kept that away? And then at some point, once your son recovered, did those seven stages kind of start to creep back in and, you know, how were you able to deal with those?

Kevin Hoover:

I think I'm still dealing with them. I don't think it was a linear work through each step kind of thing. You know, it's such a such a high intense, it's such high intensity, and it's emotional, and it's practical, and it's logical, and it's you know, it really is and people are throwing their advice at you. And so it's it's basically you're standing in front of 1000s of people, and they're just throwing challenge after challenge after advice after advice. I don't think we work through the seven steps of grief linearly. I don't think it was move on to the next Okay, there that one's done. It was such a roller coaster, depending on where we were, you know, remember, there was one time you know so when you're when you have a child with cancer, you have to stay you basically live in a bubble. Their immune system is Arrow, so they can't go to the movies, they can't go to school, they can't go to the store, their immune system is zero. And so you have to be careful. And if my son got a 100.4 fever, we were in an ambulance. So you think about that, that's a low grade fever, something you and I wouldn't even blink an eye at, my son has to get an ambulance. So we're really looking at any moment that that changes. So we didn't really I don't think we had time to really process very much in the first few months. And then as we settle into treatment, and it's working, but early on, there was a there was a situation where the hurricane was going to be talking to hurricanes, and a hurricane was coming. I lived on the coast in South Carolina. And so we're, we have to be selective, you know, we live we lived at the time, 10 minutes from the ocean. So basically sea level, this was definitely going to hit us. And it wasn't that the hurricane was coming, it was that my son can't be without power. If we're without power, and roads are blocked, and he gets a fever, what do we do? So we had to make decisions from a different place. So we chose to drive two hours inland. But we had to choose that was their children's hospital there, have our oncologist called there people have Do we have the the prescriptions lined up. So it really it's that kind of fast paced, like every day, it's boom, boom. So I don't think we really had a chance to process that until much later on, I think really, when it really first started to hit me was probably when we got the first set of scans back. And we determined that what we were doing was working. And I think that was the first exhale, that was the first and that's probably when I went into the first feeling any kind of thing. You know, we were just so fast and furious, like keep going, keep going keep going, you know, charge for charge for make sure back is okay. And I think that was really the first time and then you know, there's a an alarming statistic between parents and PS PTSD. So parents that come out of something like this suffering from PTSD from the experience. So we've been proactive on that. So I think that plays into the part of it as well. So I don't think there's a way I think every person is different. I don't think anyone processes it the same or goes through it in the steps that you should go through it in a normal environment, because it's just not. I don't think it's just that so and we're still the reason I say we're still going through is because we're still triggered, you know, in the work we do, we have to be really careful. And we have to take breaks. We're big picture, we're not that far out of it. You know, my son's about a year and a half chemo free. So we're, we feel good. But we can go back to that place very, very easily and quickly if we're not careful. So we're still processing? To that's a long answer to a short question.

Kelley Skar:

Yeah, no, it's I think it's a great answer. And I, you know, it seems to me like it's, it's almost there's no straight line with with this, you know, mental recovery, that that you guys are going to be going through and, you know, obviously going through right now for, you know, last couple of years. So, I'm curious and to kind of circle back and go back to my, you know, my two part question there. The second part would be, you know, taking this mindset that you guys have been able to develop, you just you spoke about mindset a couple of different times during your son's story, I'm curious, then how you're able to kind of take what you've learned and kind of adapt that and bring that into your coaching business, with with your coaching clients? Is that is do you bring up your experiences often through your through your coaching? And, you know, bring some of that mindset and how you've been able to kind of navigate these waters? Is this something that that is prevalent in inside of your coaching businesses? I guess, is the big question.

Kevin Hoover:

Yeah, 100%. And I think it really restructured what I do as a coach, you know, so when, when we were diagnosed, I was coaching, I had a full roster of clients. I was also running my real estate business. So I had to what I consider successful businesses, for me going, you know, working 5, 6, 7 days a week, sometimes whatever needed. wasn't shy about working late at night or early in the morning. And then, you know, like I mentioned, and all of a sudden, the brakes just are thrown on everything. You know, so you have to really reassess your business. So I went from, you know, what a normal work week would look like and through treatment, you know, we were in the hospital the first year, we were in the hospital for months out of the first year. So you're not in your normal environment. So the first thing we were in the hospital the first week, the first thing I did, I was like, Oh, I gotta figure out how to coach from a pediatric cancer hospital. So I went to my good friend Amazon and I ordered a backpack full of stuff. I did a YouTube video on what, what went in that backpack, but you know, so I ordered a backpack full of stuff that I would need to run my business from anywhere, because that was not something I was interested in before I had an office in my house, you know, it was had everything I needed. It was comfortable. And so then the next thing I did was look at my schedule, and I had to go from five, six days to a day and a half. At first I had a day and a half that was allocated for work. So cramming, a full course load a full coaching workload into a day and a half. called all my clients personally I said here's what's going on. I will happy to refer you to another coach who may suit your style, you can stay with me, it's going to be hard, I'm not going to be there 100%. But some days, some days, I'm going to challenge you on things and just gave it was very honest with them about where I was and what was doing some all of them stayed with me. Nobody left. And for the next 70 weeks, I coach from a park, from my car from the chapel in the Ronald McDonald House from, you know, my son's hospital room from the waiting room, from anywhere you can imagine. And so it was very much this professional communication of understanding. And I wasn't a bad coach. During that time. If I wasn't feeling or my headspace wasn't there, I let them know. And we rescheduled. I didn't say I didn't compromise what they pay me to do. But through that, what I learned was that I was allocating a lot of time to do something that took a day and a half. And I was allocating five or six days to do a really good job is something that I could have been doing in a day and a half or two days. And so I worked out for a long time a big I'm a big proponent of I don't coach something unless until I'm through it. So I was never going to coach about time management in this situation until I was through and had it figured out and proved that I could I could do it. So I feel like after two or three years of doing that, I've kind of proven the model, so to speak, in my own business. So I really, I really did that. And I just changed my life. And one of the things that I talk about all the time is the one thing that cancer took from me was time. And, you know, I'm trying not to get emotional, but it almost stoled the only time that matters. Right? So the only time that really matters to me, is time with my family. That's the time that you can buy, you know, so how do I but I still have bills, I still have desires, I still have aspirations, you know, and one of the things they tell you, when your kids diagnosed with cancer, the social worker set us down on day one, and said, Hey, listen, one or both of you're gonna have to quit your job. And I said, Nope, not not us. And so my wife at that time, she was with a company that really supported her. And so I had to figure out the business part. I had to figure it out. Not only that, but how do I make a bigger impact. So can't Our experience has played a huge part in in my coaching, one of the things that I tell people now is that I will not coach you to be successful financially, at the expense of your relationships, or at the expense of your kids or your time or your hobbies or your happiness, your mental health. So I don't think those two things you don't have to sacrifice that even when you're building something, you know, your startup, you're building it, you're you're bootstrapping, you're hustling, grind, or whatever it is, you don't have to sacrifice date night, because you're building something. And so I use those things that I learned just by being thrown into it all the time. It's not uncommon for me to prescribe to my clients to take a vacation, or to leave the call immediately, and take their spouse or partner out to lunch. Because that's what's most important. I learned that by time being stolen from me, you know, we're doing what we're doing now. Because that time this is all the big picture. This is me giving two years back to my son. That's what it's for. He got two years taken from him. I'm trying to give it back, Am I doing it? I don't know, it's a lot of fun, we're having a good time. And he's going on adventures, he probably wouldn't do otherwise. So that's kind of what we do. So yeah, it definitely plays a part in and I think it's my responsibility to take my experience and learn from it, and then see how I can impact other people with it. If someone else is, you know, not being a great parent, or a great spouse or partner, or a great friend, because their priorities or their perspective is a little off. It's my job as a coach to say, let me show you a different side. You know. And so I think that's that's how I use it these days, the relationships, income and legacy, really are things that stayed on my mind for 50 of the 70 weeks, and I didn't know how to use them. And then I realized that I did so the income is obviously an important part because I wasn't going to let cancer put us out of business. I wasn't going to let cancer break bankrupt us. That's just that wasn't an option. And I had to figure it out. You know, the relationship part was cancer will test your marriage in ways you have no idea. It'll test your parenting style, it'll test your frustration, it'll test the way you talk to yourself. So all of that became important. And then the legacy pieces were hugger people came in, when I'm gone. What are people gonna say? Who's going to show up? And what trail Did I leave? You know, did I leave a wake of profit or a wake of insanity? Or did I leave a wake of struggle? Or did I leave a wake of he kind of helped me a little bit that one time, you know? So that's really how this experience really shaped how I coach and what I do in business. And having done it now for a couple years beyond the inception of that I have people that are having not only success in business, but their marriage is stronger, and they're actually giving money to organizations they care about. And they're impacting other people's lives. And that just means the world. To me, that means that, that it can't be done. And we're trained that it can't. But it can.

Alyssa Stanley:

You know, as I'm sitting here listening to you talk about your journey and your growth and how you and your wife and your marriage and your future came out better. Because of how you handled this situation. The strain that you guys went through on your marriage could have been detrimental. And there's, there's people that I talked to who who have extreme diagnosis, and it it obliterates their marriage. I'm very curious to know how did you and your wife grow stronger through that rather than growing apart? Because the load that you guys were carrying individually, was crumbling, all on its own? And then you put it together? I mean, that's amazing.

Kevin Hoover:

Yeah, and I gotta be honest, my wife's in the next room. So she would want me to be honest, too. It was the most intense difficult thing I've been through and still going through, you know, I believe marriage is a process and it's every day improves on the next, you know, we haven't got this figured out, you know, we were on a television show, a couple of days ago, a week or so ago. And the gentleman said, You should put on marriage counseling classes, and I said, we should probably take a few. So I don't think we're at the end of our journey, I think, I think, you know, from from the time that we started, it was just we were always we're gonna do everything in our power to make sure to stay together. We were gonna make decisions together, we had arguments, we yelled, we said, things we didn't mean, we did all the normal stuff that you do in relationships, when you're going through high stress situations, we still do that. We do it a little more gracefully now than we used to. But we still do that, you know. And so I think one of the things that we tried to do is we tried to aim the anger at the right place. And we tried to aim the frustration at the right place. We tried to aim. And I think the biggest growth was we tried to aim the fact that I'm my own person, she's her own person. And we do things differently, we process differently. And I can't, I don't have to understand her way. And she doesn't have to understand my way. We just have to have a mutual respect. That's probably the longest for us to do. Because the questions were up, why aren't you sad? Why are you? Why are you? Why are you smiling? Why don't you care? Why don't you know that these are all questions, we ask each other in those moments as high stress moments. So I think that was the big thing that came up. So I think we just committed to holding on I think the hug hug your people when it came about, and us taking our attention and focusing on helping other people. I think that mitigated a ton of the struggle. I think, you know, it was probably, I don't know, probably eight months in where I realized that hug your people and us giving wagons to kids and doing things like that shifts our focus a little bit and ease is our own personal frustration and anger and struggle. And by helping someone else, that's how you handle that. And it didn't make it go away, it meant that now is in a better place to talk about it or communicate it or process it than I would have been had I not done that. So that was kind of I wish I could tell you that it was intentional, we sat down, had a meeting and decided this is what we're going to do this, how we're going to tackle it. But in reality, things just kind of showed up for us that proved over time to be very beneficial. And we tried to just give each other grace and breaks, you know, we would alternate spending the night in the hospital so that no one burned out. You know, it was really just this, you know, teamwork, effort, like I've never experienced in relationship, you know, it was really much very much a team.

Todd Foster:

You've proven that you have a strong marriage, because not only you went through that, then someone out of the two of you decided, hey, I have a great idea. Let's go and live in a travel trailer across the country with no personal space whatsoever. Since everything's going so well right now in life. Whose idea was that in the first place?

Kevin Hoover:

100% my wife's idea! 100% my wife's idea!

Todd Foster:

And how did she sell you on this idea? After you're thinking holy cow. I've been through a lot. And now we're going to go live together in a travel trailer.

Kevin Hoover:

Well, you know, that's that's funny, you know. And Todd, I have to clarify, with all due respect, it's a fifth wheel.

Todd Foster:

Fifth Wheel. Yes. My parents would my parents would also clarify that for me as well. Yes.

Kevin Hoover:

Now that I'm an official RVer, I have to clarify.

Alyssa Stanley:

I don't think I've ever heard anyone call it a travel trailer. Where did you get that Todd?

Kevin Hoover:

It exists. It's a thing.

Alyssa Stanley:

Oh!

Todd Foster:

Yeah. It's a travel. It's a trailer that you travel in, except his has a fifth wheel.

Kevin Hoover:

Exactly. So yeah. So my wife came up with the idea. And so it was originally her idea. It took zero time to convince me I thought it was a wonderful idea. By that time. You know, my business was pretty much work from anywhere. We kind of been locked in. You can see we went from cancer to COVID So we've been in a house for over two years at this point. And we're and we were kind of looking to go buy a new house and get it and, you know, give us a little more space because of that. And so she came over the idea she'll tell you. And then almost immediately, I went to Facebook and said, Here's what we're doing. So now we have to do it. She it was her idea that I pushed us down the path very quickly. And I think it was probably within two or three months that we had sold the house and bought the camper and moved in full time.

Todd Foster:

Do you believe either of you could have thought about doing this to escape what you'd been through and start a new life together over?

Kevin Hoover:

No, I don't think we would have done that I think had Hug Your People not been a part of the equation. It probably wouldn't be something we done. So the original pitch by my wife was a sell the house by camper and deliver wagons, all 50 states, that makes perfect sense to me. That sounds like something that we should do that sounds like something that more people should try. Right? If you have that window of time. So that's that's originally how it was presented. And that's really that was the idea that we really fell in love with. It was taking your people on the road, meeting the kids meeting the parents when we can delivering wagon, so all 50 states building the network of awareness around pediatric cancer. And so the idea was really that was the initial Yes. The first yes, that we had was that and then as we started processing that we were like, Okay, well, we can do our own adventures, okay, well, we need an office, Kevin is gonna have to work and Suz is gonna run the nonprofit, she's gonna leave her job. So then all the logistics started to come in. And everything just kind of made sense. And we were able to move very quickly on it. You know, it doesn't hurt that it's a great time to sell a house if you don't have to buy a new one. So that that kind of made a little sense for us as well. financially. And so yeah, but I think the biggest question we had was neither one of us had ever been camping before we'd never done this. I'd never backed a trailer never pulled a camper, I'd never driven a dually we had an SUV, and a sedan. So we were we were those kinds of people. And we're very much the go to the all inclusive kind of family, as opposed to the let's build a campfire and sweep dirt off the rugs, you know, when we're doing that. So it was a brand new experience. But we embraced it, the RV community has been so kind to us, and they see us coming from a mile away and have helped us out immensely. So that's kind of how that came to fruition.

Alyssa Stanley:

Kevin, if any of our listeners have someone that could benefit from your wagons or want to get in touch with you, you're the website is hug your people

Kevin Hoover:

.org.

Alyssa Stanley:

Okay, hugyourpeople.org. And then you also have a Hug Your People Podcast, correct?

Kevin Hoover:

We do! So the Hug Your People Podcast started when we were in treatment. And I recorded that from the street. Basically, I would record it mobily as we were being treated. So I think it started probably a few weeks after we were diagnosed. And I just wanted to document it's all me my feelings as a father, learning what I need to learn. So it's a very raw real, you'll hear buses in the background. So it's not a produced thing, I would record it from the Ronald McDonald House to the hospital, or I would sit in the park and just share my thoughts and feelings while we're going through. There was a an episode where we had to fight a very, very large insurance company to get the information we needed for my son. And I had to go to bat and fight a very, very large company. And when I say fight, I mean, the CEO of my region called me, that's how high up I went to get what we needed. And then you know, the back end of that is they ended up playing that podcast episode where I talked about it in their training sessions. Because it was just so so the podcast recalls all of that experience that we went through not just the it's the whole process of what a parent might go through. With with that kind of treatment. And it was very much I did it when I felt like it and I was real about it. It wasn't edited at all. I hit record and talk for as long as I felt like talking and then publish it. That was that.

Kelley Skar:

That's incredible, that that's sorry to cut you off. But that's it that is incredible that a multinational insurance company would take a recording that you made kind of off the cuff and on the fly and deploy that into their training. I think that speaks volumes about the leadership within that company, regardless of what you think of them, you know, the fact that they're willing to get better and make improvements and man, the impact that you've made on hundreds, if not 1000s of other families lives as a result of what you've just done is is absolutely mind blowing.

Kevin Hoover:

I give that company all credit, you know, they could very easily, you know, turn the other way or just said whatever. They could have very easily done that the hard thing to do would be to acknowledge and to accept and to work and to lead around it. And they did just that. So I agree. I think it was the kind of thing where as a dad I was actually And, and you know, and to the credit of the CEO, he gave me his cell number and he said, If anything like this happens again, you call me first. And really what he was saying was, before you post it to your social network, call me first. But I do I do give credit to that. I think if more companies took that in and of themselves and said, Hey, even though it's negative, can we learn from it? You know, is there value in what's going through? Let's let's consider the situation. This is a father, who's fighting cancer with his five year old son at the time. What is he feeling? Why? Why are our front lines of communication? Just checking boxes? So I think that company did a great job has it had an impact on I hope it has, I really hope it has. And I think if you heard that recording in their training session, I like to think that it helps a little bit.

Voiceover:

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Todd Foster:

Logistic, speaking, going across the country is a big ordeal in the first place, especially with anyone involved. So now you're driving a dually, which I know what that is pulling a fifth wheel, not a travel trailer. And you're going from state to state handing the wagons out. When you're handing these wagons out, do you have an idea of where you're going first? Or do you go first and then search out the place to give the wagon out?

Kevin Hoover:

It's a combination. So we are traveling to state we're on our 12th state right now. But we're shipping out wagons all over the country. So we're not waiting for us to get there to deliver the wagon. We're shipping them as fast as we can. Raising money, you know, trying to get as many wagons out there as as needed. But we do want to personally connect with the families, you know, and what the sentiment we delivered a wagon yesterday my wife did in Birmingham, Alabama, and meeting the family and the dad told her he said, you know the wagons great, but seeing Baxley seeing where he is and his treatment just really gives us hope. And so while it's easy just to ship the thing out and be done with it just like this time of year, especially, it's easy for a big company just to stroke a big check and say there we did good. I think it's really for us, it's becoming more and more important for us to actually connect with the families and let them see life after cancer. Let them see the chance that everything's gonna be okay, even though there's a ton of different outcomes and different stories that they're facing. So for us, it really has become that so that the personal delivery is something we will probably always do. We find the kids when the kids find us, we let people know where we're coming. And we are always just, you know, whatever you believe. We're just put in the way of the people that need us the most. And that's been a really special thing for us to experience.

Todd Foster:

As you grow larger, do you foresee an issue of possibly having to say no to people? Or is your intention going to be to be able to help everyone that asks for help?

Kevin Hoover:

Our intention is to help anyone that wants to wagon. And so we will figure out the logistical piece. You know, I'm an entrepreneur and a business guy. So I will figure that piece out, we've already started doing current and encounter that. So we've started having ambassadors across the country where we will give them the information for the child, they will do the shopping and the delivery of the wagons and things like that. So as an extended arm for us, I think in September during pediatric cancer awareness month, we've got like 45 or 50 requests for wagons in a couple of days. So that's when we had to figure that out. So our job is not to say no, our job is to figure out how to say yes.

Todd Foster:

If someone was interested in becoming an ambassador, how would they go about finding out more?

Kevin Hoover:

Go to our website, you can there's email on our website, you can get social media, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and just reach out and and tell us what you're looking to do. And we'll kind of walk you through the process. It's very easy. And we guide you through it, it's not a lot going on, there's no financial outlay on your part, as an ambassador, we collect the money, we're a 100% transparent company, meaning every dime that comes in goes back to the kids for now, there will be a point where that may not be the case. But right now, that's that's how we're rolling, literally.

Alyssa Stanley:

So one of your biggest goals that you talked about with everything that you're creating is a legacy. And, again, I just sit here and listen to you and your wife story. And ah, and I think about as a parent, the ultimate legacy you can create as that of your children. And in Braxley, you are creating a legacy that I don't even think it's six years old. I mean, does he truly understand the impact that you and your family are making and that what his journey, how his journey is impacting others and how it's going to affect their future?

Kevin Hoover:

I think he's coming to terms with it, you know, so it's, it's funny. So currently we live in a 400 square foot camper, so we celebrated Christmas with my father during Thanksgiving because we're not gonna be home for Christmas. So we made it very clear with the grandparents, hey, stuff is not what we need. We, you know, gift cards are great, you know, things like that. So My dad gave back a little jar of cash. And he gave back like 250 bucks. And that's how much it costs to provide a wagon for a kid. So in the wagon, we put a pillow, a toy, a blanket, some toys for the sibling, so, and then everything else that goes into it, it's about 150 bucks, about 250 bucks. So my dad is actually this jar of 250 bucks, and we count the money and he goes, I can get a wagon. So his his I think he's slowly coming to terms with the the good, that's happening. We're kind of as parents, we're kind of letting him choose whether he's a part of it or not. So if he doesn't, you know, feel like doing something we don't really force it. You know, if there's a time I hope there's a time where he wants to continue hug your people on his own and do and take it his his his way. But if he doesn't, we that's his choice, you know, we want to create that option. But I think he really likes meeting the kids and playing with them and seeing them his memory because he was so young, is slowly starting to come back. And he's starting to recall those things. And it's starting to come up and little interesting moments as a parent that you wasn't really prepared for to show up in. But it's, um, it's a lot of fun. I think right now he's embraced it. I don't think a six year old can really grasp the impact that it makes for the family or the kids or the parents. I don't think that's just I don't think it's possible just yet, but I think he knows that it does good. And that's really all I can ask them right now.

Todd Foster:

So you're driving your dually, you have your fifth wheel, it's your first time backing that bad boy up. How did that turn out for you?

Kevin Hoover:

It was a nightmare. It was an absolute disaster. Yeah, so here's we had a set of standard. So I think with everything, you know, we've never done this before. So we sold our house, and we lived locally in our hometown for about six weeks. In that six weeks, we stayed at three different campgrounds and probably six or seven different campsites. So we changed a lot, not necessarily by design, but we wanted to. And our standard was no pull through site. So you can easily pull it in, we had to back this thing up as many times as possible for we set out on the road. So there there was, I don't know if it's the first time, but one of the times, we were having a lot of trouble. And so there were probably five or seven employees of the campground out helping us probably all the neighbors had moved their cars, all the neighbors move their cars far away. And they were out watching their stuff, making sure this this circus didn't crash into their stuff. So we had everyone and everyone's giving us advice. Suzanne sitting on the picnic table with their head in her hands, you know, we had had it, and I'm just in the driver's seat, nothing's working. So there's a of course, I've got the dog and actually in the car with the truck with me. And so, you know, looking back in the moment, it was frustrating, but I know that was the moment where we learn the most, you know, so yeah, the backing that was the part that was was interesting. And then even today, you know, we've been doing this, we're about 5000 miles into it. 12 states, probably, you're 2425 campsites. And so even now, but because every campsite is different, you experience a different set of assessment and challenges, even though I know how to back the camper at this point. Right. So it's been a really great analogy of just when you think you got it. You go to someone's driveway in Michigan, and he wants to get back up a hill into a driveway that barely fits you. And that's what he wants you to do. And you know, so it's been, it's been a lot of fun. But we do have a little confidence. Now in the backing up property. It's a great question.

Alyssa Stanley:

How many wagons roughly have you delivered?

Kevin Hoover:

So far to date, in total, from the time we started delivering wagons, we've just passed the 200 wagon mark. And we're about to cross the $100,000 mark in raised funds. We've just had incredible support from people. When we left, we were only at about 40 wagons when we left on August 1. So we've delivered about 160 Plus wagons in probably 3, three and a half months, four months. So a bulk of that came after our treatment after we had decided after we kind of said this is our mission. And then a bulk of the money we raised almost $40,000 in September alone for for our cause and the wagons and so we've really just we've been fortunate enough to have incredible support from people who are just feel like we're doing something good out here. And that's been remarkable to us to experience we had no, I thought we would, you know, give away maybe 100 wagons the first year. And we've passed that in the first quarter. You know, so it's been amazing.

Kelley Skar:

What do you attribute that to Kevin? I mean, you know, it seems like you're utilizing certain media to kind of push the message and, you know, get the movement in front of as many eyeballs as you possibly can. Are you utilizing traditional media with a mixture of social media or is it all social media? How are you how are you driving donations?

Kevin Hoover:

We're both traditional media and social media, primarily social media, you know, obviously, it's free, and everyone's tied into it. So everyone's already there. But we try to do some television spots everywhere in certain places that we go, you know, when we're back home, we always do a televised update with the morning shows there. You know, we, when we were in Michigan, we have some television crews come out to the camper, and do that we're about to do that again and Texas. So we do utilize traditional, I feel like that's a good way to share the story. Social media is the daily update kind of thing. But really what I think I think the the secret sauce behind that is we started sharing our story pretty early on. And so before we were even raising money, people were part of our world and cheering us on and crying with us and laughing with us and doing all the things. So I feel like you know that, in hindsight, that was probably the biggest thing that we could do. To help push it along is to just share the real share the share the nitty gritty, you know, what are we going through what is the real challenge we're facing? share our stories with people we meet, you know. And so I think that really gets people more interested on social media right now we use Facebook heavily. We do YouTube, where we do a video recap of our trips. And where we stop, we show the, of course, the montage of actually having all the fun and doing all the things. But we also Susan, I get on and talk about the milestones we're making, you know, our experiences and who we're meeting and things like that. So I think it's the mix that really gets people invested very quickly. You know, if you go back and you do a little research on how your people, we've had so many people, because we've got our camper wrapped and how your people logo. So many people say I saw your camper, I went online, and they can consume the podcast, they can get the videos, they can tell back story. So there's there's definitely some a digital trail of this story. That kind of gives them reassurance that we're not just a family who decided to make a living off a nonprofit kind of thing. So there's a lot of proof. But because of that, they get really invested really quickly. You know, so I'll give you an example. We pulled up in Raleigh, North Carolina, to a state park, we were going to be there about a week, we pulled up some people around us were there for a family reunion. This is in the summer, they saw our campers saw the logo, they went on Facebook, they started liking, they started doing all this stuff. And then the next night, they came to our camper with 1300 bucks, and said here, we want to help you. Right. And so I think without that without that story, and without the the mix of media and outreach, I don't know that people would have that strong of a tug. You know, I mean, I thought there was a lot of money and for us to at a state park to give us an envelope or to donate 1300 bucks. It's just remarkable. But I think I can look back now as a business person and go oh, I know why that's happening. Now it's because early on, we shared that story. So it I believe in the the media mix, so to speak, of any chance you get to tell your story take take people up on it.

Alyssa Stanley:

It's the resilience and the mindset, Kevin, that really amazes me about this entire situation. And so you experienced all this. And now you're going back into the battlegrounds, where you want worrying, you're seeing families under the stress in kiddos under treatment, how do you walk into a room, and there has to be a kiddo that reminds you of your own at that time, deliver the wagon, walk out? How do you decompress from that, because you had talked about, you know, the, the aspect of some PTSD with diagnosis that has to kind of jolt you back, every now and then.

Kevin Hoover:

The darkest days of my life were in those treatment sessions, you know, some darker than others, some more easier to manage than others. But we're very careful of going back into that and being triggered, or experiencing something and unfortunately, for us to carry out what we've committed to, we have to learn to do to handle it on some level. You know, so it is very, you know, when we, when we experience a family and their child has the same cancers backs had, or we experience, you know, even seeing the bald head, you know, my son lost his hair twice during treatment, even that can be alarming. So you have to be really careful, you have to kind of prepare for what you're getting into. I have to put more faith in the good that we're doing than the struggles that I'm enduring. And I have to accept that responsibility. And I have to believe that I'm resilient enough to process that and I am I've proven it to myself, you know, and one of the things I talked about resilience all the time is that you never really know how resilient you are until you have to be. And I think you can you can train it, you can parent it, you can coach it, you can do all that but you never really know how resilient you are until you really have to be. And I've just seen that time and time again in my life and I'm sure you know you guys can relate on different but similar levels. And so I think when you really look at that, you have to ask yourself what Am I capable of I use the analogy of taking a punch? Right? Not actually, but metaphorically, you know, so I have to ask myself, Am I willing to take a punch for that parent? Because I know I can. And I know they can right now. Am I willing to do that to deliver 1%? Better for them today? And the answer is always yes. Right. So that's just I use questions for myself to really say, am I willing to do that there are certain times where it takes me a little longer, you know, we're at the point of growth now, where we're experiencing some devastating news from some kids that we've got given wagons to the worst possible outcome you can imagine, you know, and we feel a connection to that. And so we have to allow time for that we can't just charge forward like nothing happen, we have to really acknowledge it, allow time to process it. And I think that's the part of resilience that people ignore quite a bit, you know, resilience is not this, just white knuckle, your way through it, just force your way through it. You know, I don't think that's resilient at all. I think what resilience really is, is realizing how you process knowing what the triggers are for you. Knowing when something is a very quick mindset fix, and when something's gonna take a little time and allowing that time, and then moving forward, because that's just a better way to process it, you know, and each time is different for us, you know, there are certain days where, you know, I don't feel like delivering a wagon. Because I saw something or I read something, or I heard a story or something happened, and I just don't feel like it. You know, and that's a conversation. That's, that's a real conversation. It's not a, you know, buck up and go to work kind of thing. It's, it's a real conversation. So I think, you know, when you talk about resilience and mindset, I think the part that I'm really pushing, and I think I hope more people are, is that it's not just get through it, it's not how how fast you can muscle your way through this thing. Right, resilience is being so self aware in the moment that you make the right decisions for moving through it at a pace that serves you, and a pace that serves the people you love. You know, you guys know as well as I do that, if I just pushed through and just ignored everything that was coming to me, what's going to happen, that's going to come out in my marriage, and my parenting style, and my coaching, and my friendships and myself, you know, so it's gonna come out. There's a really great song I was just reminded of when I said that by Travis Meadows called sideways and his the whole catch of the song is if you push it down, it's going to come out sideways. And he's talking about that exactly idea, if you push that trigger down, or that emotion down, it's going to come out, and it's probably going to come out in a way that you don't want. Right. And so I think that's really been the thing that we're very aware of now, our self awareness has just gone through the roof, when it comes to that. We respect decisions, we still have to do the things we have to do. And I'll say that, you know, most times when we deliver a wagon, it's an absolute joy. And there's no problem, there's no trigger, it is an absolute, something we look forward to all week, it is an absolute joy is something we say we get to do. It is just that it brings us It's the highlight of our week, you know, if you watch any of the YouTube videos, there's a lot of fun stuff going on the highlight of the week is still delivering the wagon, right. And so I think that's what I need to also express that it's not this, I have to talk myself into it or force myself to do it. I deal with what I have to deal with. But for the most part, I'm excited for my family to be able to do that for another family.

Kelley Skar:

So prior to prior to all of that prior to this, you know, hyper self awareness, there had to have been a time where there was extreme anger. And this idea of this is being done to us. You know, when somebody we're being punished for this, that or the other thing. I'm interested in your response to this because I just experienced something here the other day that was very, not even remotely close to what you're going through, but I found myself just having to sit back and remember that the situation that I was in was not about me, I had to remove the AI right and I had to focus on the person that was in front of me and ensure that I wasn't bringing my selfish attitude into into that conversation. Now I'm not saying that your scenario is selfish in any way but I'm curious how you you moved out of this modality where you're you feel like this is being done to you and you know, you had to step up and and lead your family out of this darkness. How did you shift your mindset and getting away from that and coming to this realization that it if like, without you operating as a unit that you probably all wouldn't survive this at some point?

Kevin Hoover:

It's a great question. Kelly, one of the first things I tell people you know, because I didn't hear a lot I talk to people a lot as you'd imagine, I don't think my situation is worse than yours. Regardless, is cancer worse than situations? Yes. But you and I, you know, person to person, I think we all have struggles that we go through. And that doesn't make one better or worse than the other. But one of the things that are three moments really, one of them lasted a long time, the day that I put my son and my wife on a helicopter with a tumor and kidney failure, and I had a two hour drive ahead of me. I went home to pack a bag for my wife. And my mom had made a little stepstool for my son that he could stand on to watch me cook and eat snacks and do all that stuff. So I go back home without my son without my wife, they're on a helicopter going to ICU, two hours away. And so I touched that stool and collapsed, physically collapsed in my kitchen, a physical response to struggle. It was it was the first time in my life I'd ever experienced that. And I you know, I don't know, I don't know, if I went to college. I don't know what how long how long. I have. I've no, I just remember that when I when I got my wits about me and I came. The next moment, I remember, there was one central thought, and it was like Not today. Not today. I didn't know what that meant. I didn't know what we were facing. But it was just that thought of not today. And over time, you know, so in that moment, it man, this is not how it ends, you know her over time, what that meant was, instead of directing all my anger or something, I don't control cancer, I don't control cancer, I don't control the treatment of cancer. Right? Instead of directing all my anger that what can I direct, that would be positive, that might actually help. You know, the anger came from trying to control something I will never be able to control. Right. And so that those, that's when those I noticed those emotions coming up at an incredible rate, when I was getting the most angry, it's when I was really trying to control the outcome of which I never was going to be able to write. And so I find that just kind of permeated everything that we did at that point. And once I let go of control, and just started asking myself, What do I control, I control how I show up in this moment. I don't control whether that works. I control what we do next. Right? I don't control whether whether I don't feel like doing it because I have to do it because it's that kind of thing. And so it really was that there really I started using that in other areas of my life. What do I control. And I found that that I think that so that was the first moment, the second one we had to, without getting too graphic, we had to catheter my son for a few weeks, five or six times a day. My wife and I, I'm not a nurse, I'm not a doctor nine close. And I've got the college transcripts to prove that I'm not a doctor, right, so we had to catheter my son five or six times a day for a while there to be able to come home from the hospital, because that was his only way of his kidneys to function properly. And so our life for probably, I don't know, it felt like an eternity. But it was probably like two or three weeks, our life every day was finished this task and spend the next three hours dreading that task again. Because it took three adults to do it, you know, keep in mind, he's four didn't want that done. And so it very much was doing something you don't want to do for the greater good. Without doing that, as a dad without learning how to do that. We don't get to stay home, we have to go back to the hospital. And he still has to have that done. And so that was really, you know, the part where the anger really started to come in at an alarming rate. It really started to come in of, you know, there's got to be another way, you know, or there's the why us or this is not fair. And look at all them out there enjoying their lives. And we got to do this, look at them at the restaurant. And we got to do this, you know, all of those thoughts were flooding in in those few weeks. And then I started asking a different question and started not comparing myself to or comparing our family to people out there doing normal things, quote, unquote, but really saying, Am I willing to do this for my son? So it is that little tiny shift of instead of looking out in the world and saying, look at them doing the normal stuff, and they're not going through this and how lucky they are. I started going inside myself and doing the heavy lifting there and saying Am I willing to endure this for my son? I think any parents gonna be like, Yes, I am. In that situation, you know, so it became less about poor me and more about I'm willing. And and I choose, you know, I don't choose that I have to do it. I choose how I do it. I choose how I feel about it and I choose how my son feels about it. So that that was that was really that and then there was one final time where I just went in the bathroom at three in the morning and the pediatric oncology hospital room and just sat on the floor and cried and just cried at three in the morning, allowed it. I didn't find it. I didn't say I shouldn't be doing this. I just sat there and did it and woke up the next day and carried on and did what I needed to do. So I think those those moments of emotional purge are very important of not keeping things under wraps, having your support system, having your, the person you talk to, but also saying if I just need to do that, you know, and you take that that moment was so important because I you know, I do some public speaking. So I've been on stage in front of a lot of people and crying and not apologizing for that's the key not apologizing, not saying I'm sorry for being emotional. You know, I think that's super important. So in a way, it liberated me from all that. So there's no real one answer of how do you how do you keep the the anger? And how do you keep the emotional stuff? I think it really is a combination of everything is a compound effect. For me, it was those three moments looking back again, in the moment, I didn't know the significance. Looking back, those three experiences really shaped the way that I can handle things today. And the way that I processed triggers as I move forward. really did.

Todd Foster:

As a business owner, you have talked about growing the business, and this is somewhat of a business. Do you have plans for your how your people, charitable organization becomes something that's mainstream, such as possibly partnering with the Ronald McDonald House or hospitals or health care providers?

Kevin Hoover:

Yeah, we want it to be as big as possible. Our goal is to give away a million dollars a year through Hug Your People. Through that we need strategic partners. We need leverage, we need all the things that you know, business, folks, you need, you know, I think that's kind of how we're approaching it. You know, we we're not quite sure how to do that yet, but we're figuring it out. And so we are reaching out for you know, corporate partners, you know, be through the wagon sponsorship through corporate donations through, you know, camping trucks, every everything so we're, we're definitely seeking that because that's just a way to make a bigger impact in a smaller amount of time.

Voiceover:

The lightning round.

Kelley Skar:

Alright, Kevin, are you ready?

Kevin Hoover:

I'm ready.

Kelley Skar:

All right. What is your favorite cake flavor?

Kevin Hoover:

Chocolate.

Kelley Skar:

Oh, there you go. I like that. Yeah, that's a good one. That's perfect. What is your favorite hobby?

Kevin Hoover:

My favorite hobby is playing guitar.

Kelley Skar:

There you go. I guess you get to do a lot a lot with sitting around the campfire. Right?

Kevin Hoover:

It seems like you would not as much as you might think it's a lot of work keeping on the road. But I was a musician in a former life and I just tried to it's a relaxing thing for me to do to kind of decompress.

Kelley Skar:

What advice would you give your young self, so that 20 year old Kevin?

Kevin Hoover:

Oh my goodness. 20 year old me who I wish you could have met him? What advice would I give my 20 year old self? I would say make things matter. And what I mean by that is believe you have time but don't believe you have infinite time. Lean into what you're you're interested in and passionate about and like doing sooner.

Kelley Skar:

Great answer. What is your favorite season?

Kevin Hoover:

Fall. No spring! Sorry. No summer! No.

Kelley Skar:

That's good. Oh, there you go. Alright, last question. What is your favorite number and why?

Kevin Hoover:

17. My favorite number 17 is because that was my number in high school in soccer. And for me that jogs the memory of the closest that I can remember feeling to that many people meaning being on a team having success contributing feeling like I contributed be having accolades. It was just the perfect storm of everything we want as people and so that always reminds me of that time of being part of a very successful group of people who liked each other who worked together who try it tried hard, who really prepared and then went on to do their own thing so 17 is my number and that's why.

Kelley Skar:

That's a great answer to that question. I thought maybe it was because Davante Adams is your favorite football player of all time and you're a huge Green Bay Packers fan. But I could be wrong.

Kevin Hoover:

Definitley not.

Alyssa Stanley:

Um, totally understand if this is a no but I thought it'd be kind of a cool ending if Bax joined you. Would that be possible?

Kevin Hoover:

Yeah. Let me see.

Alyssa Stanley:

If that's all right.

Kevin Hoover:

Yeah. Hey, Bax come here for a minute. Wanna get on camera real quick? Now the dogs coming, everybody's coming, the whole fam.

Todd Foster:

Awesome.

Alyssa Stanley:

Awesome.

Kevin Hoover:

Can you say hello?

Baxley:

Hi.

Kelley Skar:

Hey Baxley!

Todd Foster:

Hey Bax!

Alyssa Stanley:

Hi Bax!

Kevin Hoover:

Can you tell them how old you are?

Baxley:

I'm 6.

Kelley Skar:

Wow!

Kevin Hoover:

What are we doing in the camper?

Baxley:

Um, we're delivering wagons.

Alyssa Stanley:

Do you love living in an RV?

Baxley:

Yes.

Alyssa Stanley:

What's your favorite part about your RV?

Kevin Hoover:

There's so many. It's 400 square feet. There's so many favorite parts.

Alyssa Stanley:

Yeah.

Kevin Hoover:

So he has a little bunk above my office that he sleeps in. He's got a little TV up there and that's kind of his space. And so that's kind of his gaming zone and favorite area.

Todd Foster:

That's awesome!

Kevin Hoover:

The dog sleeps up there with him at night.

Alyssa Stanley:

Do you lock your dad out so he doesn't mess with your games?

Kevin Hoover:

He doesn't have to Dad's way too big to get up in that loft!

Voiceover:

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