Woodway: Man Builds Train One-Handed

By: Nichole Perez Email
By: Nichole Perez Email

WOODWAY (July 30, 2013) -- Mike McGee suffered a stroke back in 2003 that left him with brain damage.

He can no longer read and doesn't have any mobility in his right arm.

The stroke also left him with Aphasia, the loss of ability to understand or express speech.

"He had gone through just an instant change in his life and so he needed something," says his wife Gayla McGee.

About a year after his stroke she bought him a starter birdhouse making kit.

Having never worked with wood before, Mike wasn't fond of the idea at first but eventually warmed up to it.

He started out with small projects at first like birdhouses, crosses and wagons.

Gayla made sure to always be in the garage and help him use the tools at first.

Once he learned how to operate all the machines himself, she left him to it.

Eight years ago Gayla gave him a train pattern she saw in a catalog but Mike tossed it aside.

In early March of this year Mike asked Gayla to take him to get some wood.

She noticed he was buying larger pieces of wood than normal but didn't think anything of it.

To her surprise, Mike was building something bigger than she anticipated.

"Out came the engine and then two weeks later, out came the coal car. And then two or three weeks later, out came the tanker and months later, out came the caboose," says Gayla.

It took Mike four months to complete the train by himself.

The train is big enough for children to play on with two cars with benches inside and kids can climb in and out of the other two cars.

Now the couple wants to donate the train to a church, a children's hospital or a zoo.

And Mike doesn't want to receive any money for it.

Gayla says, "he likes to give and he likes to see smiles on people's faces."

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