In 2008 I had the opportunity to write and photograph one of the most moving stories I have ever covered. It involved 7 year old Kyle Bratcher. Kyle grew up watching his dad ride dirt bikes. As a toddler his heros were pro motocross racers Ricky Carmicael and Travis Pastrana. Kyle had posters in his room of these icons of the motorcycle world and dreamed one day of jumping doubles and triples and even doing backflips like Travis.
But a brain tumor sidelined Kyle’s plans. Kyle underwent a year that included multiple surgeries, several rounds of chemotherapy, and gamma knife radiation therapy. While the cancer went into remission, the downside of the radiation therapy is Kyle lost control of his body from the waste down. No more riding a motorcycle, the doctors said.
But Kyle’s dream had always been to ride bikes with his dad. His family wasn’t about to give up on this dream. Luckily they made contact with a Tony Baustert, a motorcycle enthusiast and world class fabricator. Kyle rounded up the help of a few like minded indivdiuals and proceeded to build Kyle a Honda 50 dirt bike with training wheels and a sophisticated remote control system from a model airplane. After several months of donated work, Tony and his crew had developed what may be the world’s most sophisticated Honda 50. The custom seat on the bike allows Kyle to be strapped into the bike and held upright, while his feet are mounted on floorboards for protection. His parents can control the bike with a sophisticated RC airplane remote control.
Kyle loved the bike and spent many hours riding it around his home and local parks. He always wanted his parents to crash him into a fence “like Travis”.
Great story that I was honored to photograph and write.