Cars 4 Heroes is a non-profit organization that provides free, reliable transportation to Veterans, and their families, that otherwise are not able to obtain transportation for themselves.
More than one third of America’s population lives outside of urbanized areas. Nearly 40 percent of the country’s transit dependent population-primarily senior citizens, persons with disabilities and low income individuals- resides in rural areas. Yet in many of these communities, public and community transportation are limited or absent. The growth in the U.S. economy has created many new jobs. Two of three are located in suburban areas and, in some cities, more than 50 percent of these jobs are outside the range of public transportation. For millions of Americans, the availability of community and public transportation is the determining factor in their ability to access the health care system to necessary medical care. Whether trying to reach life sustaining dialysis treatments or ensuring a healthy future for a child with routine screenings, people must have a way to get to their medical appointments.
How/Why did our organization begin?
Cars 4 Heroes was started to provide free basic transportation to less fortunate individuals and families who are not able to obtain it on their own in any other way. Today’s world demands that the average individual have personal transportation. This has in-arguably been the case across the US for several decades as Americans have based important family, career and overall life decisions and activities on the ability to transport themselves. Just as the average company cannot function properly without the use of computer technology, neither can the average individual function without the use of an automobile. Over the years until 1996 that Cars 4 Christmas Founder, Terry Franz had been in the automotive industry, he had helped to create various specialized and innovative lending plans to make sure many individuals could obtain a car, when it was not otherwise possible. Many of the people Terry helped had poor credit or lower incomes not because they were irresponsible, but because they were living through life-altering situations such as a seriously ill child at home. In such cases, conventional employment was not possible in order that parents could care for their child. Terry would often see illness, disability or serious family matters preventing people from being able to purchase even a basic used car. Many other very legitimate cases came across Terry’s desk over the years where he simply could not help an individual to obtain basic and reliable transportation. Then in 1996, Terry decided to act on an idea he had. If there’s no way for a needy person to buy a car, maybe we can find a way to give him one. Seeing that there was no organization focusing on this need, Terry did some basic research and discovered that through various shelters and government organizations, people might find a job, home or food, but they could not remedy a lack of transportation, especially in areas with little or no public transportation. Believing that most people aren't looking for someone to take care of them, Franz felt, “A lot of these people can help themselves if they can get from point A to point B.” Learning that local food pantry’s were supported by the food industry and that Habitat For Humanity was supported by building supply companies Terry thought the automotive industry would be willing to support a community effort to provide people with basic transportation needs if someone would organize it. Terry has since created a network among the automotive industry, many local individuals and media to supply hundreds of vehicles to some very deserving people and families.
Who do we serve and why?
Everyday, people’s lives are turned upside down by unexpected tragedies, illnesses and other serious circumstances that cannot be controlled. The effects of such situations can be staggering and often go unappreciated by the vast majority of society which, in the “present” moment is not experiencing life, job and family-changing events. That is not to say that society is unwilling to help less fortunate individuals and families, but rather we pinpoint the fact that the average person usually cannot imagine the reality of sudden life altering changes until they actually happen. Perhaps a month ago or a year ago someone lived in a home, owned one or more cars and worked at a great career. A sudden illness, natural disaster, disability or death in the family occurs and quickly impacts the “status quo” leaving the individual in a place that is in no way comparable to their recent quality of life. They are not even able to buy a car. Cars 4 Heroes is there to soften the often harsh blows that life’s realities can deal. The following includes excerpts of a letter sent to us. It serves as an example of the many communications we have received and more importantly, the kinds of people who receive the gift of transportation from our organization.
If our organization did not exist, would someone invent it?
In fact nothing like Cars 4 Heroes did exist prior to Terry Franz starting the organization. Certainly someone would invent a “Cars 4 Heroes” because of the tremendous impact it has on a section of society that is less fortunate for dire reasons. They do not view its purpose as one that gives cars away, but rather one that provides basic and reliable transportation to get a child to a doctor’s visit, a parent to a job interview or the supermarket or a family to church. While car donations are nothing new to many charities and donors, a clear distinction between Cars 4 Heroes and others is its primary goal to turn these cars back out to the community. In most cases, charities accept car donations in order to liquidate them through sale or auction. While this is a perfectly viable form of fundraising that furthers many worthy causes, Cars 4 Heroes specifically focuses on accepting cars from the community, preparing them for road-readiness and giving them back to the community. In some cases, Cars 4 Heroes does auction vehicles that may be deemed unworthy for the road. These funds are used to further Cars 4 Heroes mission and to cover peripheral costs.
How are we fulfilling an important role in our community-in society?
This is truly a community project. It brings together industries, media and many local individuals to help fellow residents and their families. The following excerpts from press releases will help to demonstrate the important role that is fulfilled by C4C. In 1999 Radio station 99.7 KYYS was approached by Cars 4 Heroes founder Terry Franz, to help the Kansas City project grow and he was greeted with open arms… Recipients have included a young mother with a 2 year old child with heart problems walking an hour in the cold morning to get to a bus stop to get the child to daycare and her to a job, a man caring for a premature baby on oxygen and a feeding tube that was riding the bus in a emergency to get his child to Children’s Mercy Hospital, and a disabled Desert Storm Veteran with his family living on disability and unable to afford a car to get to doctor appointments. A dozen local charities that needed transportation to effectively deliver their services to the community have received vehicles. A family that had not been able to leave the house together for 3 years because two family members where wheelchair bound were given a van with a wheelchair lift to resume a normal life and hurricane evacuee’s have been given transportation so they may help themselves start a new life. Although the cars are not the newest or fanciest, it’s not about a free car. It’s about the freedom to get to a doctor, the grocery store, or even a child getting a ride to school. It’s about getting to a job that is further than walking distance or getting to town if you live in a rural community and its about giving someone transportation to lift themselves to a better standard of living. With the help of Automotive dealers, Gas companies, Repair shops, Tire stores, Tow lots , Parts companies and many in the community we have helped many individuals and families with a new found freedom to better their lifestyle. A vibrant community depends on the participation and contributions of all its members. Cars 4 Heroes gives vehicles away all year and uses our Heroes event to raise awareness of our project. If you wonder about the need for our services, we receive over 20,000 requests every year . We are looking to expand our program to other communities as the interest grows. If you have a interest in bringing Cars 4 Heroes to your community please fill out our Contact Us form and tell us about your event.