Search & Replace S02E14: Kevin Hoover

Kevin Hoover’s life changed instantly from being a busy and successful real estate agent to finding out about his young son’s cancer diagnosis. He found that he could deal with the cancer treatments by focusing his work week on just two days a week. The result: productivity and revenues increased within 90 days, and he was able to be there for every one of his son’s appointments. Kevin now operates the Hug Your People non-profit, supporting families with kids fighting cancer out of his RV, where he travels full-time with his family. Listen to Kevin’s story of taking his family’s darkest times and turning them into a positive outcome on Search and Replace. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if enduring the worst day of your family’s history leads to building a perfect life? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

It’s 2019. Kevin Hoover is your typical soccer dad living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Married his sweetheart, Suzanne. They’ve got a little boy named Baxley. And he even takes an entrepreneurial leap into the real estate business to build a better life for his young family. And that’s when everything changed. 

[00:00:42] Kevin Hoover: One Saturday we’re playing soccer, doing the normal things. I’ve got the jumbo coffee and the sunglasses are on the soccer field. And the next Saturday we find ourselves in ICU being diagnosed with cancer. So it was a very, very fast process. No warning, didn’t see it coming. And it changed everything moving forward. So it was this finite moment in time. It shifted you in a 180 and your focus was that job, make sure the house is paid and work for retirement.

All this to now we’re just focusing on surviving one more day. And then do that over and over again. It was a very volatile time for me as a dad, but also us as a family. Everything changes in an instant. 

[00:01:21] Joe Taylor Jr.: Baxley hadn’t been feeling well. His parents knew something was off, but they weren’t sure what. His doctors realized Baxley’s kidneys were shutting down. Investigating further, they discovered a tumor the size of a grapefruit in the little boy’s abdomen. Suzanne and Kevin had to figure out what they were going to do to make sure Baxley got the life saving treatment he needed, and beyond that they needed to keep the rest of their bills paid.

[00:01:48] Kevin Hoover: They looked at my businesses and I said, okay, one of us has to work. My wife at the time was working with a very supportive company, so they pretty much told her, we’re gonna pay you, do whatever needs to be done. You tell us we got your back. Which is great. My real estate company, I wasn’t gonna be home for four months – I wasn’t gonna be able to do real estate. And so that kind of went away completely in an afternoon. Very successful business in real estate. So that kind of went away. And if you don’t sell, you don’t make anything. So I really had to. Rely on working about a day and a half or two days a week in my coaching business to keep the bills paid.

That was very uncomfortable for me. I didn’t come up in that way. I came up, my grandfather owned a gas station and my dad was a worker, and it was like, if you’re not working at least five days a week, 40 hours a week, no one’s gonna think you’re contributing. So I was very uncomfortable with working two days a week and still trying to make full-time living.

And so we just committed to it. But the biggest commitment on the front end of that was never to miss an appointment with my son. When he’s going into treatment, I will be there. No questions asked, and that’s not an option. So that taking top priority, I put everything else around that. Was able to run my coaching business two days a week.

I told all my clients, I said, here’s what’s going on. I understand if you wanna leave, but here’s what I’m doing. None of them left. They all stayed by me. Most of ’em stayed by me through the whole thing. And in fact, my business kind of tripled over the next 90 days. Still in that day and a half, two days a week. So our income actually went up in my business because I was now operating out of necessity. There was no backup plan, there was no safety net. It had to work. So that was the biggest reframe, is really looking at what I could do in a smaller amount of time. 

[00:03:21] Joe Taylor Jr.: Kevin’s work flexibility and Suzanne’s generous employer enabled the family to move from South Carolina to Florida, where Baxley underwent 33 proton radiation treatments and over a year of chemotherapy.

Baxley didn’t wanna show up to those treatments in a wheelchair. He loved riding in a little wagon big enough to carry a kid, the kind you’d see while camping or tailgating. And after all those trips in his little wagon, by the summer of 2020, Baxley’s care team determined he was now cancer free. Which led his parents to wonder about their family’s future.

[00:03:57] Kevin Hoover: My wife and I, after we finished treatment, we kind of looked at each other and we were like, what do we do now? Like, now that we don’t have to be in the hospital every Thursday and there’s not many more tests, and you know, hopefully things continue to go well, what do we do now? And I said, well, it seems like it would be a shame for me to go back to working six or seven days a week back to the lifestyle that I was in before knowing what I know now. It seems like that would be a shame, so I think we should craft a life around what we need. 

And we were able to do that. My family sold our house and we live in an RV full time and we travel the country. And I still work, I still work from the RV. You know, so we’ve now been living on the road for 13 months. We can’t believe the people we’ve met and the things we’ve gotten to do as a family, the growth we’ve had. My son’s a different person than he was when we left. We are too, in a lot of ways. 

[00:04:39] Joe Taylor Jr.: Kevin didn’t fill his calendar back up with real estate work. He and his family have invested their time in growing a nonprofit organization. It’s dedicated to helping other families coping with childhood cancer.

[00:04:51] Kevin Hoover: We never set out to help a lot of people or start a nonprofit or do any of this. We met a single mom named Roe and her son was being treated at the same hospital and she was carrying all the stuff and she saw we had a wagon that we used to pull bags into that someone had given us. And we said, we just put him and all his stuff in that wagon and pulled him in, in the hospital and it was great.

So Roe looked at my wife and said, that wagon is really nice. That would make my life a lot easier. My wife just instinctually said, well, why don’t we get you one? We’ll get you a wagon. 

We looked at this mom’s struggle and her son and say they were in the same boat we were, similar boat. And so we gave Roe a wagon. And then we were like, well, you know, her son needs a pillow. We gave him a pillow and a blanket. And then went, let’s give him a toy too. 

That became healing for us because now we had a distraction while we’re going through this tough time. Three years later, Hug Your People has given away over 400 wagons. We’ve impacted, raised over a hundred thousand dollars for people who were fighting cancer in the wagon. 

And it came from my son. He started the whole thing. He is the inspiration behind it. He’s the reason we do it, he really is. 

[00:05:50] Joe Taylor Jr.: So if you look at the Hoover Family’s YouTube channel, without knowing any of their backstory, you’d think, oh, here’s another family of digital nomads enjoying their #vanlife, finding great places for tacos on the road, and figuring out where they’re going to set up their campsite. But Kevin says they’re always mindful of the journey that got them here. 

[00:06:11] Kevin Hoover: When you almost lose the one thing that you would trade everything for, your perspective shifts so much. I would’ve never had this perspective without our story. Without our journey through the dark times, dark, dark moments. This life tastes so much sweeter because of that. And we decided to live this life because of that. 

And we’ll go back to living a, you know, we’ll have a house again and we’ll be back in school and that’ll be good, too. Yes, you might see our adventures and you might see us doing great things for other people, but that came from us going through some really serious times as a family.

I think, depending on what you believe, I think we had a higher purpose and our job wasn’t done yet, and that’s what we kinda leaned into. 

[00:06:48] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s executive business coach and professional speaker Kevin Hoover. We’ve got links to the Hoover Families Hug Your People initiative in our show notes and on our website at

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor. 

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work.

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Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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