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Work continues on the Patriot Truck, which will be raffled Aug. 2.

DANVILLE — The Homeward Bound Patriot Truck has officially begun its tour schedule to support homeless veterans.

The 1954 Chevrolet will be on display Saturday at Arts in the Park in Lincoln Park, and also will make an appearance in Arcola on June 28.

“This is really an exciting time for Homeward Bound because each week you can see the progress as she gets closer to looking like the classic vintage truck that she is,” said Susan Gutteridge, executive director of Midwest Veterans Association.

The association has been working to restore the vehicle’s details. So far, workers have added a wooden truck bed and modern conveniences to its interior. There are still some special touches being made.

Raffle tickets are being sold for $50 for those who want to win this five-window Chevrolet 3100. Tickets are available at Carmack Car Capitol, NAPA Auto & Truck Parts in Danville and through members of the MVA. Proceeds will go to help local homeless veterans.

The drawing will take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at the big Thunder Ride event at the Vermilion Regional Airport. Nationally renowned musicians Aaron Tippin and Season Two contender of “The Voice,” Angie Johnson, will perform. Johnson also is a veteran of the Air Force.

Tippin also will build a bicycle on stage for Toys for Tots.

“The Cruise Brothers,” a local act, will open the concert with a song written personally for the occasion, and other local acts may perform.

Cassie Keister, who coordinates publicity, said the name of the Aug. 2 event is Operation: Appreciation and Mission: Home. The event will start with a motorcycle run.

The Homeward Bound restoration project is the result of an idea by Gary Knight, president/owner of Carmarck. His vision was put into action with the help of numerous sponsors and volunteers.

“Vermilion County is known for its generosity,” Gutteridge said. “As soon as the project was announced, we had so many wonderful businesses and people who wanted to get involved.”

Keister said the Midwest Veterans Association recently received a $250 donation from the Illiana Antique Auto Club. As an example of what the group does, she said, it recently raised more than $800 to help pay for a funeral for a homeless veteran who was estranged from his family.

The Midwest Veterans Association was founded two years ago and has worked alongside the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System to eradicate veteran homelessness, which is more prevalent than ever.

According to the Jan. 17 report of USA Today, as many as 48,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are either homeless or in a national program to keep them off the streets. One third of these veterans are from Illinois and Indiana National Guard units.

The Midwest Veterans Association is a 501(c)3 organization and its EIN number will be provided with your receipt.

Tee Pak Credit Union was responsible for the donation of the truck.

Other sponsors include Ultra Auto Body, Danville Area Community College, Wilson’s Transmission, Watson Tire Service Ultra Auto Body, Kurland Steel Co., The Glass Shoppe, Scott’s Auto Trim, Mike’s Custom Shop, Mark’s Automotive Electric, Linne Machine Shop, D&C Powder Coating, Keystone Automotive, Tridan and others. Organizers thanked project coordinators Chuck Shikany, Mike Shutes and Steve Tucker, and the welding and automotive repair classes at DACC. Jeff’s Custom Exhaust in Paxton donated the exhaust system.

FYI Tickets for the Thunder Ride event go on sale starting today for $20 each. They can be purchased online at www.showclix.com (type in Thunder Ride) or by calling (888) 71-TICKETS. All tickets are general admission, and all patrons must be 21 or older to attend the event. For an updated tour schedule and to see pictures as Homeward Bound progresses, go to the Midwest Veterans Association Facebook page or contact Susan Gutterridge at P.O. Box 238, Bismarck, IL 61841 or sgutterridge@gmail.com.

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