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Friday, 22 December 2017 21:00

‘Car Santa’ Keeps Veterans on the Road this Christmas Season in MO

Written by Yutong Yuan, Missourian
Chris Shell, right, takes a video of Michael Richard Crotchett, center, and Daniel Himes as they sit in Crotchett's new car for the first time at Logboat Brewing Company in Columbia, MO, on Dec. 21. Crotchett's previous car had broken down a few months ago. Chris Shell, right, takes a video of Michael Richard Crotchett, center, and Daniel Himes as they sit in Crotchett's new car for the first time at Logboat Brewing Company in Columbia, MO, on Dec. 21. Crotchett's previous car had broken down a few months ago. Photo by Olivia Liu, Missourian

When Michael Crotchett received the call from Cars 4 Heroes, he knew he had a chance to win a truck because he was one of many applicants.

But he didn’t yet know he was the winner.


“He doesn’t know he’s coming for a car. He thinks he’s coming for an interview,” said Terry Franz, the founder of Cars 4 Heroes, on Dec. 21 before Crotchett received the car. “And we got a car outside for him. It’s a total surprise.”


Outside Logboat Brewing Company’s crowded taproom, a used white Dodge Dakota was waiting for Crotchett.


Franz, also known as “Car Santa,” started Cars 4 Heroes 22 years ago when this event was called Cars 4 Christmas. Cars 4 Heroes is a nonprofit organization based in Kansas City, which provides free and reliable transportation to veterans and their families who are unable to get it on their own.


“We get about 15,000 applications every year, and we give about 300 cars each year,” Franz said.


Crotchett applied this fall and said he never thought he’d receive a car this soon.


“I feel amazing---relieved in so many ways,” Crotchett said.


Crotchett, 32, served in the Marine Corps for four and a half years before he received an honorable medical discharge in September 2010.


It used to take 40 minutes for him to drive to work. After his vehicle broke down, there was no way he could go to work. He had to temporarily move in with his cousin, who could give him a ride.


Galen Hassler, an owner of an automotive repair shop in Columbia, did mechanical work beforehand to make sure Crotchett’s new car runs well. Hassler has worked with Cars 4 Heroes for about five years, and said this was a good way to give back to the military.


We thank Missourian for reprint permission.