Hero Project delivers joy on four wheels to veterans, first responders

Each year, our nation’s heroes both at home and abroad, give everything they have for our country. Now, one Fort Myers couple is honoring their sacrifices through their auto body business and nonprofit, Salute to the Brave: Hero Project.

Jeff Kelly, a U.S. Army veteran, cannot contain his tears as he sees his surprise. In front of Jeff is a shiny, red Jeep that has been customized to thank him for his service.

“Just completely blown away by what I saw in front of me,” Kelly said.

Linda Thompson, a co-founder of the Hero Project, said it warms her heart that it could do something for a person who did so much to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day.

That is how Linda and Jim Thompson are using their Fort Myers auto body business, Savage 4×4, inspiring people by giving back to veterans and first responders.

“We realize what it takes for these gentlemen to get out of bed sometimes in the morning,” Jim said. “We wanna show the appreciation.”

They show their appreciation by honoring the brave by dedicating their talents and time. They repair and revamp vehicles. Sometimes, the couple will spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to deliver joy on four wheels.

“I know it’s just a vehicle, but it’s their trophy,” Jim said. “It’s a sense of security.”

“We know that having these builds and vehicles,” Linda said, “it makes them happy.”

They call it their mechanical mission.

Saluting the Brave – the Hero Project is a nonprofit serving Southwest Florida’s heroes, such as Adam-Jobbers Miller.

“To not be able to hand over the keys to the owner of the vehicle last year,” Jim said, “that was hard.”

This year, the truck for Travis Livingston, who is a disabled Army infantryman about to be deployed to sweep bombs overseas.

“It’s beat up, it’s tore up, it leaks oil,” Jim said. “But when he gets back, it’s gonna be a representation of what we feel makes him happy.”

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If you have a hero you would like to nominate for auto services, Linda and Jim encourage you to nominate that veteran or first responder through their Hero Project website.

CONTACT INFO FOR PROJECT AND UPCOMING EVENTS:

To reach the Hero Project, call 239-689-1428 and ask for bookkeeping.

The Hero Project has three events coming up in September:

  • September 14th, Quarter Auction by Local Ladies Social Network from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Ranch Concert Hall in Fort Myers.
  • September 21st, Cornhole Tournament by Cornhole USA at Mugs and Jugs in Lehigh Acres, sign-up is from 5 to 6 p.m.
  • September 28th, The Hero Project Fundraiser by Fort Myers Brewing Company in Gateway from 4 to 11 p.m.
Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Michael Mora
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