This past June, local Iraq war Veteran Paul Badillo’s motorcycle was stolen from in front of his Tampa apartment. He said he thought he was being followed that day and it turned out he was. As a Black Hawk crew member when he served in the Army, tinkering with his bike was not only therapeutic for him, but also helped him push through some thoughts about his time in Iraq.
A week after it was stolen, detectives spotted the motorcycle and followed the perpetrator, Nathan Bower, to his home, where he and two others were arrested on charges of stolen property, possession of drugs, guns and almost $21,000 in cash. Something that took Badillo years to build only took a week to make the motorcycle almost inoperable. The bike had been laid down on both sides, wires were torn out, the gas cap was missing and it had even been spray painted black.
American military veteran and law enforcement motorcycle club, the Nam Knights, stepped forward to pay for the costs to “help take care of one of their own,” claimed Todd Harr, president of the group. From finding parts on eBay to getting donations and ultimately piecing it back together, Ryan McDonaugh and Travis Wright, both members of the Nam Knights, spent their weekends of the past two months restoring the bike for Badillo.
“There’s nothing I’ll ever be able to say or do to show how great I am for this. I feel like thank you isn’t even sufficient to how I feel,” said Badillo. “It’s all we (he and his daughter Mila) had when I left the military. I had a really hard time after it was gone. Nothing was working around me at the time.”
Hearing him start up his fully restored motorcycle for the first time in months brought cheers, a great applause and many smiles to those who looked on, the biggest one present on Badillo.
The Nam Knights Westside Chapter, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Amvets post 26, Stepp’s Towing, Pride Cycles, Barney’s of Brandon and Chrisco Pinstriping are amongst those who contributed to restore Badillo’s motorcycle back to the way it was.