The Extra Mile - June 2014: Thomas Family/One Off Custom Design

By Ngozi Rogers

June 19, 2014 Updated Jun 19, 2014 at 12:46 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. ( This month’s Extra Mile – Circle of Giving story involves Glora Thomas and her son Aaron. Last year changed their lives changed completely when Aaron was shot and paralyzed. Despite his injuries Aaron remains positive, "I can’t walk but that won’t stop me from moving or anything… I got good arm strength so just because the doctors say I can’t stand, I can hold myself up with my arms and I call that standing."

But the Thomas home was't built for a young man in a wheelchair which Glora says caused several issues, "We had to figure out how to take him up and down the stairs in order for him to get his showering done… and how to get his personal needs taken care of without being able to get into the bathroom." Because of this, someone had to be home with Aaron to assist him.

Nick Easterday, owner of One Off Custom Design heard about the problem and decided that he and his crew could provide the solution. What’s interesting is that OCD- designs and builds custom motorcycles but Nick’s staff, friends, family and even customers wanted to help. Nick says Aarons story weighed heavily on his heart and knew that helping was the right thing to do, "Glora said there were no programs, no other outreach ministries that, because he has so much mobility still left, that would touch it. They qualified for nothing." He added, "We had to come through demolish the entire bathroom. There was water soaked flooring that all had to come up and we are now putting in a full bathroom with a ADA accessible shower for him to use on his own."

On the surface, it’s just an accessible bathroom but Aaron’s mom knows it is much more than that. She says, "I need for him to know that he can take care of himself without one of us being there. That he can provide his own personal care so that he can feel good about himself for one and also that will encourage him to go out into the world and know that he can take care of himself out there as well. Perhaps continue his education or perhaps going out and getting a job."

Aaron stays positive and upbeat, often smiling as he explains how he encourages his friends to stay strong when things are tough and that if he can overcome this and stay strong, they can too.

The remodel work is expected to be done soon and helping Aaron has inspired Nick Easterday to create his own non profit called ‘Outreached’ whose mission is to “do what others can’t do by themselves”. And the giving goes on and on.

All 2014 Extra Mile: Circle of Giving recipients will give back to our community by volunteering with local non-profit organizations, public agencies, schools, and ministries.

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