SHOREWOOD – While hundreds of people have signed the red, white and blue 2014 Mustang to show support for wounded veterans, Saturday’s stop at Ron Tirapelli Ford showed why.
The car is being driven to 65 cities across the country this summer before being auctioned off. Proceeds from the auction and donations collected on the “High Five Tour” will be used to build “smart homes” for two injured veterans – Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Ross of Livermore, California, and Air Force Capt. Anthony Simone of Joliet.
“We wanted to come out and give our support [anyway], but it’s so nice a recipient is from Joliet,” said Karen Pastell of Shorewood. She and her husband, Paul, an Air Force veteran, used metallic silver markers to write a short message on the Mustang.
“We try to keep everyone signing where they can be seen,” said Ken Foley, who drove the vehicle from Lima, Ohio. “But there are a few names in the wheel wells and under the spoiler.”
The houses that will be built are designed to provide Ross and Simone with easier mobility and safety around the home. Locally based Window World has committed to donating all the windows for Simone’s house.
Simone, who is originally from Jonestown, Pennsylvania, joined the Air Force in 2005. He was deployed to Iraq twice before going to Afghanistan in 2010.
Simone was shot down while he was attempting to land to rescue an injured solider. Simone and one other soldier survived while five other people in the helicopter were killed.
Simone suffered head trauma and burns and was in a coma for six weeks. He has undergone several surgeries and physical and speech therapy.
On Saturday, the Purple Heart recipient came to the dealership with his in-laws and his son Will, 4, and daughter, Avery, 1.
“The support that I’ve seen means a lot to me,” Simone said. “I feel a little like a celebrity. I heard my name pronounced correctly on the radio.”