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Gene Morris / Staff Photo

Jason Stephenson of Independence, Mo., and his daughter Brianna pose for a picture with Terry “Car Santa” Franz of Cars 4 Heroes with the Chevrolet Cavalier they were given following the Flag Day ceremony at the Osawatomie Elks on Saturday, June 15.

OSAWATOMIE — Jesse Stephenson of Independence, Mo., had endured a string of bad luck while trying to provide reliable transportation for his family — including having his vehicle stolen.

But Stephenson’s luck was about to change.

Osawatomie Elks Lodge No. 921 and Cars 4 Heroes representatives presented the U.S. Army veteran of Desert Storm with a yellow Chevrolet Cavalier on Saturday, June 15, in Osawatomie. The presentation took place after the lodge’s annual Flag Day ceremony.

“I was really surprised,” Stephenson said afterward. “I thought they wanted me to come here for an interview (with Terry “Car Santa” Franz of Cars 4 Heroes). I was wondering what veteran was going to be honored. I had no clue.”

Stephenson said he put $300 into fixing a 2002 Mercury Sable and the torque converter went out two weeks later, so he had to scrap the car.

Then Stephenson bought a 2008 GMC Envoy and three weeks ago the vehicle was stolen, he said.

Stephenson and his daughter, Brianna, had to get a ride to Osawatomie from a friend.

Stephenson, who is a recipient of the Operation Desert Shield service medal, said he is so grateful.

“This is just amazing,” he said. “This car is a lifesaver for me and my family. It is awesome the number of programs and things out there to help our veterans.”

Osawatomie Elks also presented a $2,000 check to Cars 4 Heroes.

The Elks paid tribute to the Stars and Stripes with a public Flag Day ceremony in which local Scouts carried flags from throughout American history. Paola and Osawatomie American Legion members fired a gun salute.

Personnel with Miami County Emergency Medical Services also attended the ceremony.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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