"My foot was on the gas. I couldn't feel it," Navy Second Class Petty Officer Jordan Stevenson said as he revved the engine of his new car. He couldn't feel his foot on the gas because the right side of his body is mostly paralyzed. "I was actually only in Afghanistan about eight days before I was injured. On one of missions, I got AK-47 shot through my helmet and hit me in the head," he said.
That was just before last Christmas. It's been a long hard year, but Jordan is fighting hard for his recovery and on Friday, he got a gift that will help -- a refurbished car, through Recycled Rides. "The car I have now is a Jeep and it's a stick-shift so, because I can't shift with my right hand," he explained.
When Chilton Auto Body decided to join forces with Recycled Rides, others were eager to help. Progressive Insurance and Esurance donated the cars, and Chilton fixed them up. Supporting the military is in the company's blood. "My father, my grandfather, Mike Chilton, the owner of the company, his father... So, it's a cause that's near and dear to my heart and as well as Mike's. Our company believes in what we're doing," sales manager Ken Kettell told ABC7 News.
And, they did it, times two. For Marine Staff Sergeant Mike DeLeon, the timing was perfect. He just returned from Afghanistan three days ago on a mission to get some wheels. "He asked me if I knew anyone that needed a car and I was like, 'Actually, I'm coming home right now to buy a car.' So, it's weird how it worked out. I actually didn't know about it until yesterday," he said.
Mike and Jordan are the first to benefit from Recycled Rides in San Francisco, but they won't be the last. There will be more cars for more veterans in need. "The worst thing is to be forgotten and sometimes, it's hard not to feel that way because people kind of assume that the war is already over, but it's still happening. A lot of my friends are still getting injured," Jordan said.
To nominate a veteran for this program contact Recyled Rides at firstname.lastname@example.org.