Brother-in-law's home-built sidecar gives Bedford man a taste of freedom
By SUSAN CLARK
Union Leader Correspondent | August 20. 2013 10:34PM
Jim Brown takes a ride on his new sidecar next to his brother-in-law and best friend, Scott Lavoie. Lavoie designed and built the sidecar especially for Brown, who suffers from primary lateral sclerosis, a rare neuromuscular disease that causes severe muscle weakness. “I can't cure what he's got, but I can make it easier for him,” said Lavoie. (COURTESY)
The two brothers-in-law used to enjoy doing many things together, but when Brown was diagnosed with primary lateral sclerosis, things began to change.
"I started showing symptoms in 2000 and have slowly progressed from there. I started using a Rollator walker in the fall of 2004 and began using a wheelchair in 2009," said Brown. "PLS has also taken my speech. I lost it gradually over the last three years. I use a speech program on my iPad to speak. The speech is the toughest thing to deal with for me."Lavoie said he's a tinkerer and soon figured out a way to help his friend enjoy life as much as possible.
"I thought, 'Why does everyone else get to go for a ride and not him?'," said Lavoie. "I'm a closet inventor of sorts and instead of watching TV, this was my science project."
"Scott is a great engineer and fabricator. I love him like a brother. He's the brother I never had," said Brown. "He enjoys building different stuff and this was a big challenge. It took him a year to work all the bugs out of it. The whole family knew about it and kept it a secret."
"I took the stairs down and built an elevator so he can change floors," said Lavoie. "I can't cure what he's got but I can make it easier for him. He's a great guy and has a great laugh. He deserves everything because he deals with this every day. He keeps a positive attitude and I try to support that. He's my hero."