Man modifies wheelchair so everyone can feel thrill of racing

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

That's the mindset a Biloxi man took to help a disabled friend experience the thrill of racing.

After seeing the cost of a professional racing wheelchair, he took matters into his own hands.

Saturday morning, Disability Connection partnered with Gulf Coast Running Club for their 25th annual Arbor Day 5K.

Behind hundreds of runners was Steve Bodin and David Beckham, a dynamite duo.

Bodin weaved through people like a pro, but it's a passion he recently discovered in a disability mentoring program called The Dream.

"We were doing basketball and football and then Dave wanted to go canoeing one time and he heard that I did 5k's, he wanted to do a 5k," said Bodin.

A 3-mile race isn't so simple when wheels are involved.

"You know a regular wheelchair, it's too close with your hands," said Bodin.

Bodin wanted Beckham to experience a run, but a racing wheelchair can cost nearly $6,000.

Bodin decided to take matters into his own hands.

"You really need something to get your hands back, you get your feet out so the back part is for that, the handle. Then the front part, you want it to be more mobile and more flexible and somewhere to put their feet so they're more comfortable," said Bodin.

A single wheel in the front, versus 2 wheels, a harness to keep him in... Those are just some of the modifications Bodin makes to David's chair before each race.

It's his second recreation.

Russell Craft pushed Glen Harris in Bodin's first prototype.

As they raced through the crowd, Craft and Harris weren't in it for the competition or the glory.

They run for one reason.

"These guys can have just a much fun as we have," said Bodin.

Bodin said he's been running for more than 20 years and only wishes he had discovered this passion sooner.

It's a passion that was made apparent by one man.

"I think he stole me with his smile from day one. I think he picked me," said Bodin.

As they approached the finish line of a 3-mile trek, they were a happy, winded team.

"He made a lot of noise out there, so that tells me he had fun," said Bodin.

If Beckham could talk, he'd sing the praises of Bodin whose simple engineering has given him the chance to feel the wind in his hair.

Bodin said that's something Beckham will continue to experience for years to come.

"As long as my knees will hold out," said Bodin.

Bodin encourages others to help those with disabilities have that same experience.

If you'd like to push wheelchairs, or join in other activities with the disabled, contact Disability Connection.

For more information on the nonprofit organization click HERE.

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