Before he was an Army Sgt. Team Leader in charge of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Aaron Hale was a Navy Culinary Specialist. Today, he is once again making good use of those culinary skills.
He and his fiancée, McKayla Tracy, have started an online business, aptly named: EOD Fudge. The EOD in this name stands for Extra Ordinary Delights. Just reading the list of the fudge ingredients makes one’s mouth water: dark chocolate, white chocolate, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cherries, raspberries, espresso beans, cinnamon and mint — even Kentucky bourbon!
The business started by accident. Aaron had lost his vision from an IED blast. With the support of friends and family, and the help of the Blinded Veterans Association, he went through rehabilitation training and got involved in sports. And then, four years after the explosion, he came down with bacterial meningitis. “It stole what was left of my hearing, and left me without a sense of balance,” he said.
Suddenly, he was in complete silence and darkness, unable to even work out in his own gym because of his balance issues. “I felt trapped in my own body,” he said. “The coping skills I’d learned no longer worked for me. The technology that made print accessible — it was all audio. I hadn’t learned braille, because I didn’t think I needed to.”
“There I was sitting home again, feeling low, and heading into a downward spiral. I knew I had to do something. I fell back on one of my old loves — cooking. McKayla and I decided to invite our family and friends and have a huge Thanksgiving feast.”
Aaron began experimenting with different kinds of fudge, and he really started getting into it. Realizing that no family of any size would be able to eat all the fudge Aaron was making, McKayla started sneaking it out to give to friends and co-workers. “It’s not very difficult to be sneaky with a person who’s blind and deaf,” Aaron joked.
People started coming back and saying, “This fudge is terrific! Can we buy more from you?” And that’s where the idea to start a business was born.
Today, Aaron has cochlear implants. “It took a long time for the surgeries to heal,” he said. “And then your brain has to learn how to hear in a completely different way. It took a year before I could even speak on the phone.”
But he’s pretty happy about his life. “We have a job we enjoy. And we get to do it together,” he said. “It’s growing beyond our dreams. It’s easy to be optimistic with the family I have. And I can’t wait for October, when my fiancée will join my family.” And that’s cause for celebration.
Aaron’s ‘hobby’ quickly turned into a business thanks to his resourceful fiancée.