Overcoming the Odds
After six years as an expert EOD Technician in the military, Aaron Hale became blind the moment an unseen IED exploded in his face in Afghanistan in December of 2011.
In the years that followed, Aaron rehabilitated himself to an extent most sighted people would envy – running marathons, climbing mountains, and even solo white water kayaking. In fact, it was the sharing of these very endeavors over social media that sparked the interest of long-time family friend McKayla who, despite living nearly 4,000 miles away, began having phone conversations with Aaron, connecting the two after 20 years.
Eventually, in July of 2015, McKayla came to visit Aaron at his home on the coast of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for a one-week vacation. “We had such a great time together,” McKayla says.
One month later, Aaron, who had been complaining of a headache, was rushed to the emergency room, the doctors soon discovering that he had contracted a rare and dangerous bought of bacterial meningitis, causing him to lose consciousness for days, eventually emerging from his comatose state with painful headaches, crippling vertigo, and the devastating realization that his hearing was now completely gone.
McKayla, at his side and with no other way to communicate, began a method where she would draw words into the palm of his hand, one single letter at a time. “The road to recovery was slow, and I had no idea how serious it was until we realized Aaron was completely deaf,” McKayla shares. Having told her work originally that she would be right back, McKayla made the heavy decision to leave her career, move to be with Aaron in Florida, and stay at his side. “Looking back, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.” she says through tears.
The doctors presented Aaron with the option of Cochlear Implants, a promising solution for regaining some of his hearing, but not without a lengthy wait of several months, a journey that would require multiple surgeries. “I just knew it was going to be a really long road,” McKayla says. Waiting for his implants, and with nothing else to focus on from his isolating darkness, Aaron began to look forward to his favorite upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving. Always one to host the holiday at his home, he started planning a lengthy menu, and a guest list to match. “And I started cooking,” Aaron says.
“And it gave me that distraction to help me take the focus off the pain that was going on, physical and otherwise. I had something to look forward to.” When the evening finally arrived, Aaron was overjoyed at the amount of loved ones who came to his dinner table.
But it was one unlikely offering – Aaron’s handcrafted fudge – that caught the attention of the crowd. It was shortly after that dinner, when friends and family began to ask if they could have more, that Aaron knew he had caught onto something special, a purpose that not only made him feel significant but one that also brought joy to others.
A Business Was Born
Thus E.O.D. was born, (the letters standing for Extra Ordinary Delights), the name not only serving as a nod to the years Aaron spent as an E.O.D Tech in the military but to the perfectionism with which he approached his former position. “I want to be the best at what I do,” Aaron states, “and E.O.D. to be the best chocolates in the world.”
Now with Cochlear Implants to help him hear, Aaron, along with the help of McKayla’s extensive experience in branding, business development, and marketing are setting their goals high, the two now ship their chocolates all over the country. “It wasn’t until we started making fudge that I really saw him light up,” McKayla says. “Once we started getting orders, he was excited to be in the kitchen with a mission to accomplish and a product to share with others.”
Extra Ordinary Delights boasts some delectable flavors like the favorite “‘Merican Pick-Me-Up” with toasted Georgia pecans, bourbon cream, and American Pride Roasters Coffee, a take on the favorite Italian dessert Tiramisu. There’s also “Strawberry White” with strawberries and strawberry Tequila Liqueur combined in white chocolate on top a semi-sweet layer.
More About Aaron Hale
Aaron is now mainly focused on building his real estate empire alongside E.O.D. The two are part owners on a 57-unit apartment building in Fayetteville, NC, own several long-term rentals and two short-term rentals in Akron, Ohio, plus a property they’re working on flipping in Pensacola, Florida. Aaron continues to run marathons and has completed two ultramarathons (100+ miles non-stop) with his third scheduled for December 2022.
Interested in partnering on Aaron + McKayla’s next real estate deal? View their portfolio and reach out here.
Aaron and McKayla are on the fast track to success, an accomplishment Aaron hopes will not go unnoticed by his three sons. “I want all my boys to see that their dad can still do anything,” Aaron says. “I want them to be able to say, ‘Look at my dad, he can do anything.”
More About McKayla Hale
McKayla is a licensed REALTOR in the State of Florida with connections on her team all over the country. She is an expert in investment properties and helping her clients identify and close on great deals all around the country.
She won the 2022 Top 40 Under 40 Award recognizing her for strong leadership, entrepreneurship, and commitment to community building. She is an Airbnb Superhost with both of her short-term rentals being located in Akron, Ohio.
She also started Empowered by Connection, an online and in-person community to serve and coach entrepreneurial women in real estate. McKayla curates spaces and tools to upgrade women’s businesses and their vision and goals which ultimately elevates the future of the World.
Find McKayla on Instagram and all other social media platforms @heymckaylahale.