BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — At one basement repair shop in Bucks County, a two-person team takes apart old bikes and build them back up. What no one saw coming was the unique friendship that sparked it all.
It hasn’t always been easy for 11-year-old Shawn Cain to connect with others. He lives and studies at Woods Services, a Bucks County organization that serves those with special needs and other challenges.
But when he saw maintenance worker, Steve Smalley, fixing things around campus, his fascination piqued and the wheels started turning.
Smalley found a way to cultivate the boy’s interest in technical skills by inviting him to work side-by-side at the bike repair shop every Wednesday.
“I just thought he’d slip through the cracks if I didn’t do something and never get this kind of experience,” Smalley said.
The unlikely bond became an unexpected form of healing.
“My son, Sean, was kind of like this Shawn. He wasn’t really good in academics but loved to watch me work and do work himself,” Smalley said.
In 2010, his son, just eighteen-years-old at the time died in a tragic car accident.
“I miss him horribly,” Smalley said. “But having Shawn here keeps me in the mode, father mode. Just hanging with him is a healing process.”
He calls this a gift, one made even more special because of the shared name.
“Isn’t that something? When I found out his name, I was like, ‘Wow! This is crazy. Because he reminded me so much of my son.”
The organization has a sprawling 300-acre campus and serves 675 people, so whatever brought Steve and Shawn together is unlikely, but it’s just as perfect of a union as the parts on a bicycle.
“It was divine intervention, I guess,” Smalley said.
In tragedy, he found a form of therapy and a lesson: never feel so lost in the Woods that you miss the new path forging in front of you.
“He’s my favorite maintenance guy,” Cain said.