When he opens the back of his SUV Iraq veteran Sgt. Jeff Chaffin undergoes an amazing transformation. That's where he keeps this. It's not a tricycle.It's a handcycle, a hand operated tricycle and it's darn near a miracle.
"It's therapeutic for me when I'm on the bike. It's a short period of clarity for me. Whenever I'm out riding I don't have PTSD. I don't think about anything but the wind on my face." he says.
He actually travels around the country racing it. One time in in the Philly airport he missed a connecting flight. That's where he met Ethan Yamashita and they hit it off, racing their wheelchairs around the concourse. 8 year old Ethan will never be able to ride a standard bike. He has brittle bone syndrome. By age 7 he had over forty bone breaks. Jeff showed Ethan a picture of the handcycle.
"The kid just lit up. It was like he realized he didn't have to sit in a wheelchair all the time and do absolutely nothing."
They parted ways.. and Jeff and Ethan's mother vowed to stay in touch about finding a handcycle for Ethan. Problems arose. These things are expensive and custom made, only one company in the country makes one for kids, and no organization thought Ethan qualified for assistance.
Remember Marines want to make the world a better place and they absolutely don't run away from fights. So Jeff started a fundraising website for Ethan. He's also planning to ride 200 miles in 24 hours to raise money. But it's not just about the bike.
"Who knows.. Maybe the bike won't do anything for him maybe he won't even like it but just him seeing that he can do these things would hopefully try out other things."
This all was supposed to be a secret but Jeff forgot to take Ethan's mom off his email list. She couldn't believe what the man they met once by chance in was willing to do help. "It's just amazing. No words can describe it. I hope someday I can do something like this for somebody else." she said wiping away tears.
They've raised over half of the money. They hope to give him the bike by October. And although Ethan lives in Maryland,we live in a modern, hyper connected society. So that's why Jeff has a favor to ask of you.
"It's a big secret, his parents know it, some immediate family knows it, but Ethan knows absolutely nothing about what's going on So If you know him don't say a word to him."