For Chandler Osborne, a senior aviation major at Eastern Kentucky University, defying the odds runs in the family.
His father, David “Oz” Osborne, is a walking miracle. In 1989, he was severely injured in an altercation while on duty as a Daviess County police officer. The perpetrator shot him five times, struck him repeatedly in the head with his gun and commandeered his cruiser to run over him. The incident paralyzed him from the waist down. After many surgeries, Oz Osborne’s doctors told him that he would likely never walk again or ever be able to have more children.
Despite those bleak predictions, he eventually regained the use of his legs. Five years later, he and his wife welcomed their son, Chandler Osborne, into the world.
The father’s sacrifice made his children eligible for the Kids’ Chance scholarship, a college fund for the children of workers who have sustained severe injuries on the job. Chandler Osborne is a recipient of the scholarship, as was his older sister, in the amount of $1,500 per semester.
The Owensboro native is grateful to Kids’ Chance for many reasons. One is the “financial peace” it has afforded him, as well as “the opportunity to explore all of the career paths and find the one that is right for me.” As the fifth-year senior knows, switching majors often means extra semesters, which means more tuition. The scholarship allowed him to waive financial concerns and focus on finding his passion. “Kids’ Chance gave me the push I needed to go with my gut and do something I enjoy,” he said.
Though Osborne entered EKU to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a police officer, it only took a semester for him to decide it wasn’t the right path. After a brief foray into occupational safety, he turned his eyes to the sky. “A buddy of mine told me about the aviation program, and I was just all in from there,” he said.
Osborne says that he ‘found himself’ at EKU and in the study of his future career. “The aviation program has shown me what it means to be disciplined and showed me what it means … to want something and take the necessary actions to get it,” he reflected. Like his father, he refuses to accept limitations. The flight program typically takes four to five years to complete. Osborne is about to complete it in three, with a 3.4 GPA. “I take pride in that because I showed myself something,” he said. “If I ... want something bad enough, I just have to go get it.”
Osborne is grateful not only for what Kids’ Chance has done for him, but how it has honored his father: “So many years after his accident ... people start to forget about what Oz Osborne actually did for everybody else and what he sacrificed. Kids’ Chance, in a way, for me and for him, has just shown that people out there still care.”
As proud as Osborne is of his father’s service, his father is just as pleased with him. “What makes me most proud of Chandler is his perseverance in life and with situations he's faced,” said the elder Osborne. “He has never given up or quit, though I know at times he's felt like it.”
Despite his injuries, the father, who now serves as Daviess County Clerk, focuses on the positive aspects of his situation. “My wife, Connie, and I have tried to impart to all three of our children that no matter how bad a situation might seem at the time, God can always make something good out of what appears to be bad.”
Osborne will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in aviation (aviation.eku.edu) with a concentration in professional flight, single engine. After graduation, he plans to instruct flight students at EKU to gain flight hours, then intern with UPS in September. He says his ultimate goal is to fly full time for UPS.
For all the odds he has defied, he “can’t thank Kids’ Chance enough. I hope they prosper for years and years to come.”
(To see a video of Chandler, visit www.kidschanceky.org.)
Inset photos: Above, a young Chandler Osborne with his father; below, David "Oz" Osborne
-- by Madison Harris, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management