Back in 2017, one of our board members donated his 05 Honda 450X to us, saying we can sell it, or give it to someone, just make it count. We sat on the bike for a couple years, waiting for the opportunity to do good with it.
Then in early 2019, we got a message from a guy named JJ. JJ is a combat wounded double foot amputee, who served as both an enlisted Marine, and was wounded while serving as an officer in the Army. JJ was remaining vigilant over his veteran brothers and sisters, and realized a Soldier he new, was not in the best place mentally, so he reached out to us, wondering if we had a dirt bike we could help someone with.
This started a journey with Mitch Melott. A combat wounded Army Medic.
Mitch lost his lower leg (below the knee) while serving in Iraq. An infection in that leg later on, forced the doctors to do a revision, and removed more of the leg making Mitch an above the knee amputee.
Mitch loved motorcycles, especially flat track bikes, but a divorce forced him to sell all his bikes. Now living in a 2 story house with only his dogs, loneliness and depression started to set in, putting Mitch in a tough situation.
Reaching out to Mitch, we learned he was a left leg amputee (your shifting leg on a motorcycle), which is not a problem for us, since we use Kliktronic shifter solenoids, that we get from our friends at Chariot Moto Trikes, in Vermont. The Kliktronic is an electric solenoid we find to be better built and more durable than the other offerings on the market.
While we started to tear into the bike to get it ready, our board member who donated the bike, told us he was friends with Cameron Steele and his company Baja HQ, would be interested in helping out. So we sent the bike to Baja HQ and they went through the bike and created a custom bracket for the Klicktronic shifter, and added Micheline tires, which is the parent company to our sponsor, BFGoodrich Tires. Lastly they laid on the graphix kit supplied by DeCal Works, and the bike was ready.
The bike was then sent back to Warfighter Made, where we added Lucas Oil to the mix, gave it a detail and waited to surprise Mitch with it.
On a rainy day in December, at Warfighter Made’s 5th annual Open House/Car Show, we surprised Mitch with his bike. The event was covered by ABC 7 in Los Angeles, and a documentary was filmed by BFGoodrich Tires.
The bike has changed Mitch’s life, but Mitch’s life wasn’t the only one changed. While on a ride in the deserts of Hesperia, CA. in the middle of no where, Mitch came upon a tiny dog tied to a scrub bush, that someone cruelly left to die. Mitch put her in his back pack, and rode home. He’s since named her Frank the Tank, and she’s be happily living with Mitch for two years.
As a way of saying thanks to Warfighter Made, Mitch wanted to enter “The Great American Off Road Race”, The Mint 400. With support from Faster USA wheels, Baja Designs, Peter Harsch Prosthetics and Desert Squadron first aid kits, Mitch partnered up with active duty Marine, Col. Jody Lynch to run in the 50 and older class. Mitch was a little nervous on race day, until TJ Austin, an Aussie and US Marine vet, plus a long time supporter of Warfighter Made, who just so happened to be racing in the 50 and older class too, walked up to Mitch and proclaimed “if you’re with Warfighter Made, then I’m riding with you!”
Both Mitch and TJ started together and they mutually supported one another on the course. If Mitch dumped his bike, TJ would stop and help him back up. When TJ started experiencing mechanical issues, we got a text from Mitch that read: “My Aussie battle buddy’s bike is dead. Dead battery. I’m good and I’m not leaving him. They’re coming to get it running now. I’m good! I’ve hit the ground hard 8 times. Bike is good, leg is good, i’m good.”
Once TJ and his bike were recovered, Mitch pushed on! We then got a text from our support crew Mag 7 Pits, saying Mitch’s engine had seized and they were recovering him. We thought Mitch’s adventure was over. A little bit later we got another text from Mag 7 pits that read: “bike cooled and started! Go Mitch Go!” It was a nail biter for sure!
Mitch crossed the finish line in a Grand Prix finish legless. His prosthetic was strapped to the rear fender. During the finisher interview on the stage, Mitch said his Peter Harsch Prosthetic worked great, until he hit a tree, breaking the tree, and the prosthetic.
We can’t describe the feeling we all had when Mitch rode up on that stage, so we’ll just show you the pix instead.