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Friday, 13 April 2018 20:09

Rapid City, SD, Auto Businesses Join to Fix Veteran’s Car

Written by Molly Barari, Rapid City Journal
Pictured is 85-year-old Korean War veteran Gerry Cameron's car after the community rallied to fix it for him free of charge. Pictured is 85-year-old Korean War veteran Gerry Cameron's car after the community rallied to fix it for him free of charge. Courtesy photo

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It was an uneventful winter’s day at the salvage business where Lauri Beardsley worked. 

That is, until an 85-year-old Korean War veteran, Gerry Cameron, came in to pick up two doors he had bought after being hit broadside in his vehicle.


“He didn’t have the money or the means to get it done, so a few of the employees helped get the back door on, but there was such extensive damage, we couldn’t do the front,” said Beardsley.


While talking with Cameron---who was happy to have an audience for his war stories---Beardsley learned he was living off Social Security and wasn’t sure he’d be able to fix his car any time soon.


“He was very appreciative of what we’d done for him,” Beardsley said. “Later, when I checked into the purchase of the doors, I discovered he’d paid for them with three credit cards and cash. I was so upset that this veteran was unable to afford to fix his car, let alone afford daily necessities.”


Beardsley decided to reach out to people on her Facebook page to solicit help. A few came forward because of direct ties to the military, and some because they just thought it was the right thing to do.


“It wasn’t the large corporations or big body shops that stepped up. It was the mom-and-pop shops who are barely getting by,” Beardsley said. 


One individual with a Navy veteran father volunteered to reimburse Cameron for his doors. Flat Iron Recording donated a used car and A-1 Auto Salvage used its tow truck to pick it up and paid the money to Cameron’s cause. Will Hayford, owner of Hurricane Fitness, and several other individuals also donated funds.


Brian Williams, owner of Ray’s Auto Body, stepped forward and said he’d take care of the body work and painting---without even seeing the car. With the entire right side of the car banged up, it needed extensive work---more than anyone originally thought.


The car required realignment and frame work, including a new quarter panel and center pillar. Roy’s Westside Auto helped with the frame work and Dakotaland Autoglass provided a new windshield after it shattered while fixing the frame. And of course, the vehicle’s two new doors were secured in place. All in all, the car needed about $4,000 in repair work.


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