EVERYDAY HERO: Former officer starts Wheels 4 Purple Hearts

By Bill Murphy, Everyday Hero Host
Last Updated: Monday, November 20, 2017

It all started when today's Everyday Hero restored a wheelchair for a veteran who lost both legs.

Now he is running a full-fledged organization helping hundreds of local veterans, and he's doing it with community support.

Jack Thompson lives in Ellenton and was formerly in Michigan, where he spent several years with the Detroit Police Department.

He is founder of the non-profit "Wheels 4 Purple Hearts."

"Strictly for Purple Heart veterans who lost their legs," Thompson said of the organization. "If you've been shot up, go talk with Wounded Warriors. If you lost a leg, you might want to talk to me."

It started a few years ago when Thompson restored a used electric wheel chair and gave it to a young vet who had lost both legs. It didn't take long for word to get around, and suddenly he had 20 chairs waiting for restoration.

"I put 12 of the 20 inside my house, mostly in the man cave and the bedroom that goes with the mother-in-law suite, which made my wife real happy," he said with a laugh.

Thompson makes sure the rides are cool.

"It's got an amplifier under the seat and it picks up music from your CD or your smart phone," he said. "And it has a Bluetooth connection."

The chairs are brightly painted with plenty of lights, decals and emblems.

When Rocky Burton and his wife, Dove, met Thompson they immediately signed on as volunteers

"I saw his passion for what he's doing for the veterans and the wheelchairs," Rocky Burton said. "We thought it was a great organization, so we decided we would like to do as much as we could to help the organization."

Thompson used to foot the bill for everything. Now, community support is key.

Asked why, now that he has retired, he has taken on this mission of love and respect, he said it may be his father's doing.

"It might be something from my father," Thompson said. "He died in the second World War. It could be him knocking on my head, (saying) you better think about it."