KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Throughout the year we tell you about people in need of cars. The local organization Cars 4 Heroes donates about 300 of them per year.
Most of the time we never hear about what happens after the car is given, but this success story shows how paying it forward can come full circle.
While a car is not everything a person needs in life, for one Kansas City family, a car gave them a better chance at life.
Travis Aikin’s car is not new. It’s not shiny, and it’s seen better days
“This is a 2000 Concorde. Chrysler Concorde,” Aikin said. “To us, this has done everything and more we could ask a car to do.”
For Aikin, it helped him change his family’s life. In 2016, Cars 4 Heroes gifted the Army veteran his car.
“An overwhelming feeling of generosity and just caring,” Aikin said.
He’d lost his job, had to move back in with his family, had no transportation, and his wife was sick. This car allowed him to work and help pull his family through a tough time. From there, Aikin was able to rent an apartment, then a home, get a newer car, and finally, they bought their own home this year.
“It was something I thought was never going to happen. With the way things are, the way our life is and the unique challenges we have,” Aikin said.
When Aikin didn’t need the car anymore he gifted it to his nephews until they could get a car of their own. They had it for about a year but were able to give it back to him. Two days later, Aikin’s engine went out on his car, and he found himself needing the old Concorde again.
“Wait a minute, I’m not without a vehicle. I just need to pick the Cars4Heroes car back up,” Aikin said.
Now, he’s back in it again and grateful.
“You always hear that if you pay it forward, and it will come back to you. Karma comes back around. If we’d chosen to make a quick buck and sell the car that wouldn’t be a possibility,” Aikin said.
Car Santa gifted him the Concorde all those years ago. He says Aikin took the initiative to use his gift wisely.
“He gives us a lot of credit. He went to work. He’s the one that upgraded housing and cars. All I did was show up and give him a tool to work with,” Car Santa said.
Car Santa said every year they give away around 300 cars. What Aikin did with his gift is why they do it.
“That’s what it’s all about. I tell people all the time it’s not a prize, it’s not a gift, you didn’t win the lottery here. You just got a car that runs,” Car Santa said.
For Aikin, that’s all he needs.
“Always try to pay it forward, be thankful for the blessings you get, and the people that are put in your life. Appreciate it all because you don’t know how quick things can change and you’ll need it again,” Aikin said.
Cars 4 Heroes provides cars to former service members or family members of service members. If you are in need of a car for yourself and meet the criteria you can apply for one here. Cars 4 Heroes is always in need of donations of cars or cash to help get people in need back on the road. If you are able to help you can donate a car or a monetary donation here.