New car for veteran; Willow Bill needs help | NevadaAppeal.com

New car for veteran; Willow Bill needs help

Teri Vance

Recycled Rides and Rupert's Auto Body restored a 2011 Mitsubishi Galant, and presented it to Marine veteran Patrick Kelly at the SEMA show in Las Vegas on Nov. 2.

"We did the grand unveiling during a luncheon at the Westgate Hotel during the SEMA show," said Ted Rupert, owner of Rupert's Auto Body. "After reading the bio of Patrick Kelly, I gave a speech thanking everyone, and he made it a point to stand up from his wheel chair to accept the keys. Big tear jerker."

Kelly entered the Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. July 1977, and was discharged February 1985.

"While in the Marines I suffered a parachute accident after jumping out of a 46 helicopter at combat town on Camp Pendleton, Calif.," Kelly explained. "I fell 5,200 feet with the chute not opening until 200 feet from the ground. The only thing holding my foot on was skin after it twisted around like taffy, also broken bones."

He was transferred to Camp Pendleton and hospitalized after getting gangrene and bone infection. He said he was stabbed in the back while stationed at Quantico, Va., and subsequently needed two back operations after nearly dying.

Kelly said he has received 29 operations and still needs up to five more.

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He said the car, which was also worked on by Alpine Lock and Fast Glass, will change his life. "This vehicle will give me freedom and independence," he said. "It will allow me to leave my apartment to get out and socialize and combat depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'll have the freedom to get out to grocery shop without having to worry about weather or wait for a ride nor take multiple trips in my electric wheelchair like I do now.

"I will also be able to help other Marines get around as well as volunteer with the Marine Corps League Greater Nevada Detachment number 186."

•••

It's that time of year again. Willow Bill is looking for help in dispersing his willow reindeer along Highway 395 from Gardnerville to Reno.

William "Willow Bill" Goulardt has been making willow reindeer with elementary school students in the area for 19 years. Those reindeer are placed in front of businesses and other locations in what he refers to as the nation's largest art project.

He's looking for help from people with trucks and trailers at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. today for the highway between Carson City and Gardnerville. He will be doing the same thing next Saturday in Carson City.

Volunteers can meet at the Stewart complex or give Willow Bill a call at (775) 842-3594.

"They get to be an elf," he said. "How fun is that?"

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.

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