Success Stories

Tyler Wideman’s family loves motorcycles –Harley Davidson motorcycles to be exact.

Tyler works at Harley Davidson store in Coos Bay 

Tyler’s father, Adam Wideman, rides Harleys and his son grew up riding alongside his father.

Highway 101 Harley Davidson owner Alan Pettit had never hired a person with a disability before, until job developer Chris Ball approached him with the idea of hiring Tyler.

“I’ve been approached by different companies and agencies over the years about hiring people, but in a retail environment, you have to be careful,” Alan said. “I’ve known Chris for several years and held a lot of respect for him before he even approached me about the program. When Chris told me how much Tyler wanted to work here and what a dream it was for him, I decided to give it a try.”

Tyler, 22, started working at the Harley Davidson store in Coos Bay in April 2016, a little less than one year after graduating from the Marshfield High School Youth Transition Program, earning a Certificate of Attendance.

“I like being around motorcycles,” Tyler said. “I like the people at the store, and I like making money.”

Tyler, who has Down syndrome, works 12 hours per week spring through fall. In the winter when the business is slower, Tyler spends his days participating in Special Olympics.

Tyler dusts and polishes bikes, arranges and displays Harley Davidson apparel and merchandise, details company vehicles, and has janitorial duties inside and outside of the store.

Tyler’s father Adam Wideman is happy to see his son productive and working. He said Tyler had previous work experiences that didn’t go well, and he started to worry about his son being able to fit in the workforce.

“I so appreciate Al and Karen giving him a chance,” Adam said. “I was so guarded at first. Then he got this and he has exceeded expectations.”

Tyler, Alan and Karen Pettit,

Alan and Karen Pettit, owners of the Highway 101 Harley, said they hope more employers hire people with disabilities.

“I think more employers would step up to the plate if they knew how many support mechanisms are in place to make the employee successful,” Alan said. “I would be a strong advocate for any employer who wants to talk about this program.”

Tyler said he enjoys super hero movies and clothes shopping with his paychecks. He and Alan have a great relationship, and enjoy joking around.

“He fits in here, the likes the other employees, they like him, and he does a great job,” Alan said, fist bumping with Tyler, who smiles broadly.

For Tyler’s dad, seeing his son working in the community, collecting a paycheck and loving his job is gratifying.

“It has given him such a boost in his self-esteem, such a sense of belonging,” Adam said. “For him to be able to say, ‘I work at the Harley shop,’ is a huge boost for him.”

Barbara Neils was the VR counselor for Tyler. His service coordinator is Emily McConathy from Southern Oregon Regional Brokerage. Chris Ball was the job developer and Star of Hope provides job coaching. Denys Austin was the benefits counselor from the Work Incentives Network.

You can also view a photo slideshow of Tyler at work.

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