NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iraq War veteran James Dilks and his family received a special gift from the community on Sunday.
The Deron Cherry Foundation, in partnership with Cars 4 Heroes, gave away a refurbished car during the Deron Cherry Second Annual Pickle Ball tournament fundraiser at Chicken N Pickle in North Kansas City.
“We have to take care of our veterans -- those folks that serve our country,” Cherry said. “You know, they make the ultimate sacrifice. A lot of them are fortunate enough to come home, some of them aren’t. And the ones that come home, they need a little bit of help."
Dilks, who served in the Army Reserves from 2001-05 and was deployed to Iraq from 2003-04, said he walks four miles to work every day and also walks his daughters to school. His wife, who is currently pregnant with their third child, said the past few years have been difficult for the family.
“I was just excited that… Like I said, I walk to work everyday and I walk her to school, so I’m just excited that we don’t have to do it anymore,” Dilks said.
The car was prepared by Cars 4 Heroes, an organization that accepts donated cars, fixes them up and gifts them to veterans, active-duty military and first responders. They give away about 300 cars each year to families in need.
“You never get tired of looking at their faces," said Terry Franz, of Cars 4 Heroes. "The biggest thing is the sigh of relief. ‘Oh, I can get the kids to the doctor, oh I can get to the grocery store.’ So it’s really not about a prize, but giving them the freedom to go out and do the things they need to do.”
All proceeds from Sunday’s benefit will go toward the five charities that the Deron Cherry Foundation supports -- Score1 for Health, Camp Quality, Cars 4 Heroes, Midwest Animal ResQ and Answering the Call.