SCC students build motorcycle for veteran

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Tyler Endicott and Trevor Nebesniak, SCC instructor.
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(L-R) Brandon Haverkamp, Dalton Johnston, Tyler Endicott, Josh Atanasu, Trevor Nebesniak.
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Personal touches on the motorcycle.
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Students in Trevor Nebesniak’s Motorcycle, ATV & Personal Watercraft Technology program at Southeast Community College received a unique assignment at the start of the Spring Quarter: Rebuild a motorcycle for Wheels 4 Warriors USA.

Deadline? June 9. The quarter began March 28.

“This project couldn’t have come to me at a better time in the students’ schedule because this was exactly what we were doing in the class as far as engine repair,” Nebesniak said. The project involved much more than overhauling the engine.

Students spent nearly 50 hours taking the 2001 Victory Deluxe Cruiser apart and logging the parts, then more than 200 hours rebuilding the bike. It was given to the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Nebraska Chapter, and then presented to Tyler Endicott during a ceremony June 9 in The Railyard.

“I had no idea,” Endicott said. “There’s probably more people that deserve it more than I do. This is a big shock. Thank you everybody.”

Josh Atanasu, originally from Deadwood, South Dakota, who now lives in Papillion, worked countless hours restoring the bike. The 36-year-old Army and Army Reserve veteran approached Nebesniak with the class project.

“I got a call from Craig Toupin (president and chief executive officer of Wheels 4 Warriors USA) asking if I would be interested in doing the next Wheels 4 Warriors USA bike,” Atanasu said. “I talked to Trevor, and we’ve been rolling on it.”

Brian Sweeney, a veteran in Riverside, California, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during his service and could no longer ride, contacted Toupin last year. He said he had a bike he wanted to donate, and insisted it go to a veteran. Toupin drove to California last November to get the motorcycle, all the while hoping he wasn’t wasting his time.

“When I got there, it was not in good shape,” he said. “It didn’t run. The starter was burned out. The driving lights were broken. A fender was bent. It was in all sorts of disarray.”

With the bike loaded it was time to head back to Nebraska, but not before an emotional goodbye.

“There were tears in his eyes, and he gave me a hug,” Toupin said. “Right then I realized that this was mission accomplished. The (W4W USA) program isn’t about the day we give the bike to an individual, it’s about getting these veterans back into a group with people they can trust.”

Since Endicott is an Army veteran, SCC students added a number of custom touches to the bike, including military blue on the dipstick, blue pin striping on the gas cap and military green for the fenders and gas tank. SCC’s Welding Technology program also contributed customized plates toward the front of the bike and on the back, with the No. 7 etched and illuminated with a blue LED light.

“They’ve done a great job on the bike,” Toupin said.

Dalton Johnston, a student from Gothenburg, also spent much of the quarter helping to repair the motorcycle. Three other students in the class, Wyatt Starmer from Bethany, Missouri; Cannon Arett from Fremont; and Brandon Haverkamp from Seneca, Kansas, also worked on the project.

Nebesniak said a key instructional moment during the project occurred when Rylan Vos, owner of The Vic Shop in De Soto, Iowa, attended class one day and dyno-tuned the V-twin engine. Vos is considered an expert on Victory motorcycles.

“Basically, he helped us reprogram the motor,” Nebesniak said.

“He took time to teach us what he was doing,” Atanasu said. “I was blown away. You could literally hear the engine change while he was on the dyno.”

Atanasu said the most stressful part of the project was making sure parts went to the paint shop in time.

“If you miss the paint day, the project is over,” he said. All of the black on the bike was powder-coated.

Since 2015, W4W USA has been presenting refurbished motorcycles to veterans groups across the country.

“It’s about brotherhood, fellowship, camaraderie,” Toupin said. “Each day an estimated 22 veterans take their own lives. Maybe we can help introduce vets to motorcycles and fellow veterans and get them the help they need.”

“Helping Vets Two Wheels at a Time” is the slogan on the Wheels 4 Warriors USA website. W4W USA is a national effort to assist veteran motorcycle organizations put deserving, honorably-discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces on motorcycles. The organization partners with any veteran or motorcycle organization to help get a deserving veteran his or her own motorcycle.

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu

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