Heads up: You might want to have tissues nearby.
In his new web series “Returning the Favor,” Mike Rowe is visiting hardworking community-minded people around the country with the goal of repaying the favor of their community service or volunteerism. Rowe was the star of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe” and is an outspoken advocate for trade occupations.
The first episode is filmed in Lake County’s Cedar Lake (near Crown Point) and features U.S. Army Engineer veteran Jason Zaideman, who created and runs a non-profit organization called Operation Combat Bikesaver.
Zaideman’s mission with the organization is to help other veterans and first responders live through post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, depression and other mental health issues that can accompany military service or emergency response.
Participants (who need to apply and be accepted into the program) are taught how to rebuild motorcycles and get to keep the bikes they rebuild, while often learning new skills and using the Operation Combat Bikesaver workshop as a form of therapy to deal with a myriad of issues.
The episode features Zaideman’s story of how and why he created the organization. Throughout the episode, Rowe hears from veterans working in the shop and talks with local business owners and law enforcement officers about Zaideman’s impact on the community.
The style of the series is also intriguing as it gives a background look into producing the show, often showing Rowe and his producers planning their surprises for Zaideman – which take place at the end of the 20-minute episode.
And the surprises are great. I won’t spoil them here, but again will remind you to grab a tissue or watch this video somewhere where you won’t mind getting a little teary-eyed.
(*As is typical with Rowe, there is some salty language/content, though most is edited for a “family” audience, as Rowe mentions.)