The Checkers tonight teamed up with a group of corporate partners – GEICO, Caliber Collision, Keffer Hyundai and Veterans Bridge Home – to surprise a local Air Force veteran with a newly restored Hyundai Sonata during the second intermission.

Tech Sergeant Carissa Perry is currently in her 20th year in the military, including five in the Air Force and 15 in the Air National Guard, where she is currently active. Perry recently had her vehicle break down, making it tough for her to find job opportunities and transport her daughter to her activities.

Even so, Perry continues to find time to volunteer at Veterans Bridge Home, which took notice and nominated her for the car donation.

“We worked with Caliber Collision and the Checkers in the past, but we’ve never done anything this big or this special,” said Blake Bourne, Executive Director of Veterans Bridge Home. “We got to know Carissa and her family and we knew she had some car trouble, so we reached out to Caliber Collision and said we had a veteran who is more than deserving. We wanted to make sure we did something special for Carissa and the first thing we thought of was the Checkers, so we asked them to be a part of this and it was great to see everyone come together and align the community around someone that’s served our country.”

The donation is a part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program, with several different companies coming together to make the surprise come true.

“This is a program where GEICO partners with different providers country-wide,” said Jason Phelps of GEICO. “We always want to have a presence in our local communities and give back to veterans that have served so much like Carissa. This process started months ago with Steve at Veteran’s Bridge Home and working with Caliber Collision and Keffer Hyundai. This has been in the works for a long time. We’re very happy that GEICO was able to do this locally because they have very strong ties to the military in the Charlotte community. I’m a veteran myself, so this is just outstanding that this could come together so well.”

Keffer Hyundai and Caliber Collision joined forces to provide the car and restore it for Perry.

“At Caliber Collision we strive to change the image of the collision repair industry and strive to be a big part of the community,” said VP of Operations Brandon Hawkins. “When we teamed up with Veteran’s Bridge and GEICO to make this happen, we thought the best thing we could do for Carissa – obviously you can see the joy and the happiness it brought her. That’s what hits us down to the core.”

“The people from Caliber approached us and told us about this program,” said Jim Keffer. “We are huge fans of veterans and people in our military, so this was a no-brainer for us. I was really proud of my guys for stepping up and providing the parts.”

The Checkers are proud to be a part of the effort, which brought together companies from across Charlotte to help benefit a great cause.

“A lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to bring this together,” said Phelps. “What is very uncommon about this donation is that it was a surprise to Carissa. We’ve really kind of kept up with Carissa’s life over the last few months through Steve and Blake at Veteran’s Bridge, so it’s been great to get weekly updates on how she’s doing and hearing her story progress, knowing how badly she needed this car and how big an impact this could make on her life.”

“To me, it’s indicative of Charlotte,” said Bourne. “Charlotte is an amazing community, and to have as many organizations stepped up for this as did shows the value that we put behind people that served our country. I’m really impressed and appreciative of the support of our community partners.”
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.