Paralyzed veteran makes sure paralyzed children have bikes to ride

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Keeping up with Jaxon Mackey can be a fruitless endeavor. The five-year-old Chesterfield boy is constantly in motion as he zips through his neighborhood on his tricycle. But Jaxon does not pedal like most children.

"He was born with a spinal cord injury and is paralyzed from the waist down," Jaxon’s mother Amy Mackey said.

That injury made it difficult when Jaxon first told Amy he wanted to ride a bike.

Jaxon Mackey

Jaxon Mackey

"He just asked if he could ride and we said it didn’t work for him now," Amy recalled.

That changed when James Howard stepped in. He founded Reachcycles in 2014. The non-profit delivers specially adapted  tricycles to children like Jaxon who are living with disabilities.

Each tricycle costs between $400 and $1,200.

"We have veterans, active duty soldiers, and youth groups assemble the bikes and deliver the bikes so it’s all volunteer," James said. "It’s amazing. Words can’t explain it. You have to be there to see it."

Jaxon and James

Jaxon and James

James knows first-hand what Jaxon is experiencing. The Iraq War veteran was paralyzed and became a quadriplegic in a swimming accident eight years ago.

"I’ve had a lot of big moments in my life coming back from Iraq. Graduating from Ranger School but it doesn’t compare when a child receives a bike," James said.

James' mother Nancy said her generous son always thinks of others.

"I think it has been so rewarding for him," Nancy said. "It is just wonderful to see them ride the bike for the first time and take off and see the happiness on their faces."

In two years, Reachcycles has delivered more than 100 bikes and, for five-year-old Jaxon Mackey, a lot of fun.

Jaxon Mackey

Jaxon Mackey

"When you give a bike to a child it really puts it into perspective for me and for other people," James said.

The Mackey family could not be more grateful.

"When [Jaxon] got his own [tricycle] he just took off. James has been a lifesaver. Like I said he gave Jaxon a bit of normalcy something we thought he would not get to do," Amy said.

For Jaxon, he gained more than just a bike. They may be an unlikely pair, but the bond James and Jaxon share is as strong as a boy and his bike.

"James is my BFF," Jaxon said. "I have a lot of friends but James is my BFF."

Reachcycles will be donating eight specifically adapted bikes to children with disabilities from Richmond and surrounding counties on September 11 at ArcPark in Richmond from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
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