Out of work and recovering from cancer surgery, Vietnam vet Terry Meyers, 56, needed a Christmas gift to hang on to his car. And he needed it fast.
On Saturday afternoon, that gift arrived for Meyers -- in the form of a check from the Band of Brothers motorcycle club.
The Belleville-based club, which consists of veterans and their supporters, raised $250 to pay off what Meyers still owes on his 2001 Saturn sedan.
The club also convinced Kennedi Auto Sales in Collinsville to forgive the remaining $300 on the car's note.
For Meyers, a Navy veteran who served multiple tours patrolling rivers in Vietnam in 1974 and 1975, the generosity of Band of Brothers and Kennedi Auto Sales could not have come at a better time.
"I'm just speechless," Meyers said. "I'm so thankful they exist and what they're doing for other veterans."
A chef by vocation, the Caseyville veteran is slowly recovering from surgery that removed much of his esophagus and "rearranged my stomach," said Meyers, whose weight since his operation dropped to 104 pounds from 130 pounds.
For Band of Brothers, the chance to help Meyers illustrates what the club is all about, said Gary "Ripcord" Raymond, the club treasurer.
"Our mission is that we raise funds to help our veterans," Raymond said.
Over the last few years, the club has raised about $6,000 to provide computers and other gear to help veterans at the VA Jefferson Barracks medical center, in St. Louis County search for work, Raymond said.
"This year we decided to try and keep the funds we raise to help veterans in Illinois," he said. "Because we are an Illinois motorcycle club."
So the club put the word out to local veterans groups, including Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 117, in Collinsvile, that they were looking for a vet who needed help. Meyers, a Post 117 member, came forward.
For Jeremy Fults, the manager of Kennedi's Collinsville car lot, the opportunity to help Meyers was a no-brainer.
"We appreciate these guys, and Terry's a great customer," Fults said. "He's happy and getting better. It's just great to see people get together and help somebody else."
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2533.