Nine surgeries. A knee replacement. Thyroid cancer.
Justin Madore’s doctors said he should forget about riding his beloved motorcycles ever again, after the Kalamazoo soldier was badly injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. His artificial knee would make him topple. He had lost stability.
He sold his bike.
But a Michigan nonprofit had a different idea.
Madore’s buddy, retired Army Sgt. Brad VandenBerg, couldn’t accept that verdict.
VandenBerg started the nonprofit Two Wheels for Warriors in 2012 with the goal of raising funds to create specially designed motorcycles for injured veterans.
After fundraising for two years, VandenBerg worked with Dirty Boyz Motorcycles in Plainwell, Mich., to take a $6,000 “salvage bike” and redesign it for Madore.
The design accommodates his injuries, and includes a sidecar for his service dog Cody, a Labrador retriever and poodle mix that helps him cope with PTSD. The sidecar also stabilizes the bike.
Two Wheels for Warriors is also working with Bob Body, who lost a leg in Iraq. Soon he should be out on the open road just like Madore, who is feeling better about everything now that he has a custom motorcycle.
The new ride “is helping my PTSD tremendously because it’s so relaxing,” Madore says. “When I had a stressful day I’d just hop on the bike and go for a ride and now I can do that again.”
“I got Cody on the side, I look down and he had a smile on his face,” Madore says. “I’m back on a bike again, couldn’t be happier.”
MORE: Meet the Do-Gooders On Two Wheels That Are Helping Vets