MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- As they took turns sitting behind the wheel of their new car for the first time, Sgt. Kevin Donahue and his wife Jan were overcome with gratitude.
The Donahues were presented with a new van Tuesday at Manhattan Area Technical College that’s been refurbished by students in the college’s Automotive Collision Repair Program.
"This is just a great family that has been involved and worked hard together for the benefit of our country and they’ve had a couple of difficult things happen to them and they are truly in need of a vehicle." said Chuck Sulkala, Executive Director of the National Auto Body Council during a ceremony and presentation.
"We’re very honored to represent all military families and we know firsthand what they all go through. So we appreciate it," Jan Donahue said.
It’s all part of the National Recycled Rides Program, helping needy families across the country. The 2004 Honda Odyssey was donated by State Farm Insurance.
Manhattan’s technical college is donating the revamped cars to local veterans with Fort Riley’s Wounded Warrior Program. Each qualified soldier, whose situation dictates the need for assistance above and beyond the system’s capability, submits an essay to “tell their story”.
Sgt. Donahue has been deployed several times and is recovering from a number of injuries. He has been in the Army National Guard for 20 years.
In addition, both he and his wife lost their jobs due to the recession, had to file bankruptcy and lost their home and vehicle as a result, officials said.
"I just want to thank them for having the program and working so hard and putting so much effort into making it so successful. I appreciate it so much," Donahue told WIBW.
Manhattan Area Technical College also honored students, faculty members and staff who have served our country as part of their annual Veterans Day celebration.
"We are here, this day, to recognize and appreciate what veterans do for our country… There are so many people that have given of themselves and continue to give of themselves day in and day out that have not gotten the recognition that they deserve for having served our country. So your efforts here today have been fantastic and I really applaud the work that you have done," Sulkala added.
As for the Donahues, the show of support from the community is something that they will never forget.
"What an honor and what a nice vehicle and what a nice thought and to be appreciated as a military family- how huge is that," Jan Donahue said.
MATC is one of only two educational institutions participating in the Recycled Rides program nationally. The only other institution is Washburn Institute of Technology.