HELENA – A Helena Valley auto shop is giving back this weekend to some local veterans.
Top Gun Auto Body hosted the Hero of Helena giveaway Saturday afternoon. Owner Ted Culbertson and his employees prepared a fully accessible wheelchair van. They then picked three local veterans with special mobility needs, and asked the public to vote for one to receive the van.
At the giveaway, Culbertson announced the first-prize winner was Daniel Koehl, known for his Veterans Coffee Drive program that collects donations of coffee and other items for patients at the VA. But, in a surprise, he also announced that Stephen Keim, another local veteran, had donated a second accessible van, meaning second-place finisher John Cole won as well.
Koehl said he currently has a truck, but it’s difficult for him to load his wheelchair without falling.
“I’ll be able to do anything I need to do to get in now in the van without falling,” he said. “I can’t say how good it’s going to be. It’s just awesome. My heart is just so full.”
Cole has a van, but said the new one will be easier to get in and out of.
“I just wanted to say thank you for the van,” he said. “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever won anything.”
The third veteran, Royal Magnus, was not able to attend Saturday’s event, but he also received a $1,000 grocery card from Vans Thriftway.
Culbertson said he was honored to be able to help these deserving veterans.
“It’s very important for me to give back, and one thing we can give back is cars,” he said.
In addition to Top Gun Auto Body, a number of other businesses worked on the new van. Point S Tire donated the wheels and tires, Milledge Muffler and Brake provided the exhaust system, and Axalta Coatings did the van’s finish.
Koehl said the Helena community has always been remarkably supportive of veterans.
“This community takes so good care of us,” he said.
The giveaway came during Top Gun Auto Body’s second annual classic car show. The event also featured a barbecue and an exhibition by freestyle motocross riders.