With a love for cooking, Aaron Hale chose to serve his country by joining the Navy as a cook. But when the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were in full swing in 2006, he found himself drawn to helping out in a different way.
Out of his options, the explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) team felt like the right choice. This highly skilled group was responsible for detecting and disarming explosive threats.
In addition to detonating these explosives, they often gathered evidence with a kit and a metal detector. Aaron attempted to do just that in 2011 with an improvised explosive device that was already rendered safe. What they hadn’t noticed, however, was another IED that was around 20 to 30 meters away from the device Aaron was heading toward.
“I got punted into the air. It really rung my bell. The lights went out. I stayed conscious,” Aaron said. “I thought my helmet had gotten pushed over my face from the blast. So I reached out to adjust my helmet and get back to work just to find that the helmet was gone. That’s when I thought, ‘Oh no, this is really bad.'”
Despite surgeries and years of rehabilitation, Aaron became permanently blind. Still, he found ways to stay active by running marathons, climbing mountains, and solo white water kayaking. During this recovery time, he also began talking to the woman who would later become his wife, McKayla Hale.
Just when things started looking up, Aaron contracted a rare and dangerous form of bacterial meningitis that left him without any hearing. Cochlear implants were an option, but getting them required multiple surgeries and a wait of several months. In the meantime, his entire world had drastically changed once more.
“I spent a few weeks in the hospital, and they let me go back home,” Aaron said. “And I was sitting at my breakfast counter in my kitchen blind and deaf — I was locked in my body, and my entire world ended at my fingertips.”
With Thanksgiving around the corner, Aaron used hosting their celebration as a way to distract himself. His process for cooking was different than it used to be, but his love of the process hadn’t changed a bit. Plus, his family was able to confirm that his cooking skills hadn’t been affected either. In fact, they loved his homemade fudge so much that they kept asking for more.
“I would make all of these different flavors of fudge, and McKayla noticed a smile on my face. I was actually enjoying myself while I was cooking,” Aaron said. “And the other thing she noticed was the fudge was just piling up. She started giving it away to friends and family, neighbors. And people started coming back and asking if they could buy more for, like, a baby shower or birthday or something.”
And so Aaron and McKayla’s fudge business was born! They named it E.O.D (Extra Ordinary Delights) as a nod to Aaron’s time in the military, and it has gone on to change their lives in the best way.
“It wasn’t until we started making fudge that I really saw him light up,” McKayla said. “Once we started getting orders, he was excited to be in the kitchen with a mission to accomplish and a product to give to others.”
Aaron isn’t the only one finding joy in his newfound passion. With an ever-growing following on Instagram and TikTok, thousands of people across the world are finding hope in his inspirational story.
“The one thing that the military taught me was that things being hard was never a good excuse for a mission failing,” Aaron said. “So I look at that every day as I’ve got this job to do. Can’t worry about the tools I no longer have. I still got to do the job and, you know, too bad if it’s hard, but I got to figure it out and failure is not an option.”
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