Zeke Crozier, a medically retired Army Staff Sergeant served nine years with the Chinook Helicopter Unit operating out of the New Century Air Center in Gardner, KS. Zeke was deployed for Humanitarian missions to Pakistan & Africa and two combat deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Then June 25, 2011, as a Crew Chief in Afghanistan, Zeke’s Chinook Helicopter crashed while on a mission. No one died, though Zeke and another soldier were severely injured. Zeke experienced a traumatic brain injury. In a coma for two weeks, he was expected to suffer from severe disabilities for the rest of his life. Doctors were unsure if Zeke would ever walk or talk again. (Kansas City Star Video Interview).
However, a miracle happened. Zeke woke up. Because the left side of his body including his face was paralyzed, he had to learn everything over again. With support from his wife, Lacy, he progressed from a wheelchair to relearning how to walk and talk.
Zeke gained a second chance at life. While Zeke was in the hospital, members of his unit died in another crash shot down in August 2011. It is the worst loss of American lives in a single incident in the Afghan War, and it made international headlines.
In 2013, Zeke was awarded the Purple Heart and medically retired from the Army. Struggling to find a new purpose, Zeke found a therapeutic outlet in creating unique pieces of art using bottle caps. This hobby became a thriving business. Art gave Zeke a new lease on life and he wanted other veterans and people of many diverse backgrounds to experience the joy of making things with their hands but more importantly, connecting with the community through art.
In the Fall of 2019, Handy-Cappin’ ® became a 501(c)3. As a nonprofit, Handy-Cappin’ is dedicated to helping individuals who suffer from mental health issues, disabilities, and PTSD. Handy-Cappin’s mission is to make a difference as a fundraising partner with other organizations to benefit people with disabilities, veterans, and their families.
In the future, Handy-Cappin's vision is to make possible one-of-a-kind and meaningful maker experiences to honor those who survive, thrive and overcome adversity– to honor those that have served in the military and those that have fallen, to support and encourage people with diverse abilities.