Pittsburgh Steelers legend Rocky Bleier and the Veterans Leadership Program recently helped two deserving Pittsburgh veterans experience a life-changing event — the presentation of two vehicles to provide them independence and the ability to work and take care of their families — thanks to the National Auto Body Council (NABC) Recycled Rides program, along with car donors Allstate and Farmers Insurance and Body by Cochran Collision Monroeville.
The presentation was held at Rosedale Technical College in conjunction with the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) industry reception. Bleier, who shared stories of inspiration and teamwork and met with the veterans and other guests, joined the festivities, along with representatives of Allstate, Farmers and Body by Cochran Collision.
Bleier, a U.S. Army veteran, was drafted while playing for the Steelers and served in Vietnam. He now works in the Pittsburgh community to help other veterans in need.
“I am so pleased to be able to be here and present these cars to veterans in need of transportation,” said Bleier, a four-time Super Bowl Champion. “I’m proud to work with Veterans Leadership Program, which identified these veterans and connected them with the NABC Recycled Rides program. It is a tribute to our community that we have organizations like them to take care of our veterans. I am very privileged to be able to help with this program. The NABC does this around the country throughout the year and gives away 300 cars to people in need, like single mothers and about 75% to veterans.”
The veteran recipients, who were selected by the Veteran Leadership Program, included:
- Anita Richmond, United States Marine Corps veteran, who was working daily at her full-time job and part-time job as a Lyft driver until her 2007 vehicle experienced extensive transmission issues that were too expensive to repair. Richmond has since been utilizing public transportation and had to give up her part-time Lyft job. “This will help me maintain employment and take care of the simple daily things like grocery shopping,” said Richmond. “I am forever grateful for this opportunity and very thankful that it’s been made available to me. It is awesome that this program helps veterans when they need it.”
- Ryan Mueller, who served his country in the U.S. Army Reserves for eight years and as a combat engineer in Iraq, where he sustained injuries that have led him to great pain that he deals with every day. Through the pain, he walks two miles to work as a cook at a local restaurant, which adds stress on his knees. Mueller is an extremely hard worker and is also enrolled in vocational rehabilitation and employment to help him retrain in a different line of work that would be less stressful on his body. “It’s been three or four months since I had a reliable vehicle, so I can only take a job that I can walk to,” said Mueller. “Thanks to this, I have a job making twice as much money starting tomorrow because I now have transportation to get there. This will help me move forward in my life, get to work and go back to school to complete my masters to help other folks in need.”
Recycled Rides is a program in which businesses representing all facets of the collision repair industry team up to repair and donate vehicles to individuals and families in need of reliable transportation. Since the inception of the program in 2007, NABC members have donated nearly 3,000 vehicles valued at some $42 million.
Additional partners in the presentation included PPG, which donated the paint for the vehicles; 1-800 Charity Cars; TOONA Automotive Paint & Equipment and FindPigtails.com, both of whom provided generous gas cards for the two veterans; CREF and Rosedale Technical College, which hosted the event.