My bestfriend, mentor, boyfriend, & forever Kelly Duane Mahan Jr
Before he dives in I want to make it known that Kelly is the reason we opened a business. The first month he talked about it I was totally against it. He convinced me. If he hadn't convinced me we wouldn't be here right now. Thank you Kellz for always pushing me to do better, accomplish more, and strive for the stars. He is the idea person. Most people unknowingly set limitations for themselves. They lose their imagination, hope, & dreams as they age. Kelly has no boundaries, limits, or barriers whatsoever. The best way to put it is he thinks way outside the box and/or the dotted lines. Majority of the time I am amazed at how differently his mind processes the world around us. He is my number one cheerleader, mentor, bestfriend, lover, and my soulmate. The way I now see the world is because of everything he has taught me. One of the many reasons I love him. He is different in the best way possible. Speaking to him you would never guess of the things he has endured and survived through.
Kelly & I didn't have to share these intimate things with anybody. WE CHOSE TO. Reason why is simple, we want others who have been through similar circumstances to know they aren't the only ones. For anybody who hasn't ever experienced the struggles we have, we want you to know that this is where we come from, what we have SURVIVED through, and have overcame. If we can educate, help, and inspire just one person then we have succeeded. I put more than enough statistics in the first blog entry to paint a detailed picture of the soul shattering situations we have overcame. Kelly is one of the most brilliant people I know. He is ambitious, polished, funny, wise, charismatic and intelligent. I love you Kelly!
This is an overview of his story.
Hey everyone my name is Kelly I was born in Redlands, California December 1987.
I will speak briefly of my childhood more so on specific situations that helped shape the trajectory of my life. People handle grief, death, and loss in many different ways. More often than not you have people that surround you to help you cope. I am not one of those people. As a child I internalized my hurt, pain, and grief. When there is no where and nobody to turn to what do you do. Most people I have talked to have fond memories of their childhood. My childhood was full of hurt and heartbreak.
My Father was killed when I was six years old and a few short years later my friend Anthony Martinez was kidnapped, molested, and murdered.
These two events impacted me to the core of my being. I learned at a very young age the boogeyman is real. Because of those 2 things I was dead inside and did not care about anything in this world.
We moved to Colorado where I had no Family or friends and very shortly after I was introduced to the legal system.
I spent time in juvenile correctional facilities and was even committed to the Colorado division of youth corrections at the age of 15. I was a gang member and once released from Juvenile Corrections I begin to use drugs very heavily. Those drugs were methamphetamines, crack cocaine, and heroin.
Being an adult is different than the innocence of a child in too many ways to name. What happens when your innocence is stripped from you. Those who were supposed to protect, help, and care for me threw me into the endless cycle of the legal system. There's people in this world who don't understand how its possible to be that young and in the system. How are you going to survive when your only parent refuses to take you "home" and tells the judge "I don't want him". These are devastating blows to a child. What do you do when you are 15 and on your own? What if the only people who are willing to show you how to survive in this world are selling drugs? Have you ever gone to sleep hungry and didn't know where your next meal was coming from; what would you do?
It's a ticking time bomb when you're getting high. It is just a matter of what happens first: Jail or Overdose. For most people its both; & I was no different. The first time I overdosed immediately went back and got high once released from the hospital. The worst thing about addiction is you can't see or think clearly through it. I overdosed three times in total; yet still went back to getting high. There are so many opinions and harsh judgements on the topic of addiction. My opinion is you shouldn't be able to make any speculations or negative comments on addiction unless you have suffered and struggle in it. If it was that easy to quit any substance then why do people smoke cigarettes with the science proving it gives you cancer? Why is there an epidemic of opiates in America that is swept under the rug? Its so simple to make statements, give your thoughts, and strike judgement down on others when you haven't experienced the cycle of getting high, feeling the intense withdraws, overdose, and doing it all over. With drug use there is always crime. I eventually found myself in a ton of legal trouble once I turned 18. If you have ever been in any jail or prison you will see that almost every person is incarcerated behind addiction. Like most of the people in the legal system spent the majority of my adult life in Prison.
I was in Level four and Maximum security for almost the entirety of my incarceration. I was mad at myself and mad at the world. However I was able to look inward & see that no matter what I had been through or what had happened to me I was responsible for myself. I alone could begin making decisions that would get me out of positions I did not want to be in.
During the time I spent in DOC I met a few different Corrections officers and staff who actually made me feel like I was a human being. Who told me I mattered. I was able to get into the TC (therapeutic community) program and I was eventually accepted to the halfway house.
I am not sure how to accurately describe how different the world was upon release. I was in a halfway house that is way different than most. I went to prison in 2007 and was released in 2019. Do you remember how different life was in 2007? Technology wasn't super advanced, I didn't know how to work a smart phone, and life never stopped moving. It was challenging at first; but I knew I never wanted to go back to prison. The halfway house saved all my money for me until I got out. I found my first apartment in LoHi. I worked at UPS Freight driving a forklift in the hot of the summer and the freezing cold Colorado winter. Describing UPS as hard working conditions is the understatement of all time. The thing about all these "jobs" that are in desperate need of employees are that they don't pay a livable wage without sacrificing your life in return. Freezing on the dock I knew that no matter where I worked it wasn't going to be enough. Something wasn't right. Deep in my heart I knew working until my time ran out wasn't an option for me. Spending that many years is prison will show you how priceless time really is. I'm all about numbers. If I'm working anywhere for 12 hours a day and it takes 30 minutes for a one way trip to work that's already half of my day. What time do I have to spend on myself? The things I dream of doing. That isn't even counting the time it takes to shower, eat, wind down, and sleep. With all those factors combined that leaves 0 time for my family or free time. Is that really how we are expected to live? Working and sleeping? I wouldn't consider that living life. Spending time with the people you enjoy the most and care for while spending time doing things that you love is the way life should be lived. How was I going to accomplish this?
While working at the Denver Rescue Mission one of my co workers told me that he used to own multiple hot dog carts. He said it wasn't a difficult business to own and it need little start up capital. I went home to talk to Bre about it and she straight up said no! About a week later I asked again, with the same result, NO. Then finally she started warming up to the idea. There are so many amazing pros of owning your own business. You make your own schedule, everything you work so hard for is for you and your business, take time off whenever, and you put in what you get out. We both decided we were done working to make other people rich. I remind Bre all the time, I rather put every single ounce of myself into something for us than for somebody else. In March 2020 that is when all the magic began. Researching everything we could find about the food truck industry, hot dogs, the market, other businesses, and where to begin. I won't say that its easy, because it is way harder than my co-worker said it would be! I will say it is worth it.
I want people to know that no matter what happens to you in your life, you have the ability to overcome it. You cannot see what is in front of you if your eyes are looking behind you. There are many situations that impact us as people, that make us the way we are, but we DO NOT HAVE TO LET IT DEFINE US! Many of the limitations & barriers we allow ourselves to be held back by, are set by US. I have transformed my life, and nobody did that for me. I achieved it because of me.
Thank you for reading! We appreciate all the support we receive and are glad to be where we are today.