Fifteen-year-old Dakota Barker, of Lexington, Tenn., is the proud owner of a new Dixie Chopper BlackHawk zero-turn mower that he helped build, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and the employees who design and build the “World’s Fastest Lawn Mower.”
Dakota suffers from epilepsy, which, until a recent brain surgery, would cause him to suffer intractable seizures. The seizures complicated Dakota’s efforts to operate his lawn service, which cares for several lawns in his area throughout the summer. Pushing his mower would exacerbate Dakota’s seizures.
Dakota asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana if he could visit Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc.’s facility in Coatesville, Ind., where Dixie Chopper zero-turn mowers are designed and built. His wish was granted July 31, when he visited the plant and got a firsthand experience in making a Dixie Chopper BlackHawk.
Dakota’s day began with a factory tour by Plant Manager Rick Judy, during which he viewed the complete process of producing a Dixie Chopper mower. Afterward, Dakota fabricated BlackHawk components with the engineers who design Dixie Chopper products. He then took those parts to the assembly line, where they were used to build a BlackHawk unit.
Dakota’s BlackHawk was delivered to him by his local Dixie Chopper dealer, Outdoor Specialties, in Lexington, Tenn.
“It’s so easy to let the day-to-day aspects of the business become routine, but days like these make every effort worthwhile,” said Eli Kean, graphics design manager for the Dixie Chopper brand. “For a 15-year-old young man to have the opportunity to choose any wish, and he chose to design a Dixie Chopper, it’s truly a blessing to Dixie Chopper, and to all of our employees.”
Another blessing is Dakota’s ongoing recovery. Since his brain surgery seven months ago, Dakota has been free of seizures.