When former paratrooper and helicopter mechanic Adam Ely of Oklahoma offered to fix his daughter's friend's car, it was a light-bulb moment. The work was easy. He saved her $80, and he decided, "I'd like to do more of this." So he and his wife set up Hard Luck Automotive Services in 2017. He never turns anyone away, promising, "If you can afford the parts, I'll fix it for free. One of his customers, single mom Tamesha Rayes, needed her car to take her eight-year-old son to school. Adam called around to get her the best price on parts, and gave her some coupons to bring the cost down farther. Then he fixed her car for free. Adam even let her son, Tysen, help out. Now Tysen tells everyone he's going to be a mechanic when he grows up, "just like Mr. Adam."
Adam walks with a cane because of knee and back injuries, but this does not stop him from helping others. "It's such a good feeling to give back to people," he says. "I get so much more out of it than they do." His free car repair work also helps him deal with flashbacks and other post-traumatic-stress-disorder symptoms which have challenged him since he left the military in 2007. He admits, "Doing this gets me through the PTSD 100%!"