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Veteran Laura Cox, left, holds her two children, Haze Cox, 3, and Alvina Cox, 5, as Veterans’ Rock Board President Cindy Stockdale hands her the title to her new car on Saturday at AmVets Post 10. Stockdale worked in conjunction with Lennox Auto Body Repair and Fat Boys Tire & Auto to make sure Cox could be given this car in good condition. Rhianna Gelhart/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – After defying a year of difficult circumstances and providing for her two children, local veteran Laura Cox was gifted with a car Saturday to get her to school, medical appointments and work.

Veterans’ Rock donated the car with the help of Fat Boys Tire and Auto, Lennox Auto Glass & Detail Center and DB Auto. The vehicle was used and needed a significant amount of repairs before it was given to a veteran in need, which was all done the past few months by the local mechanics at no cost.

Friends, family and members of the local nonprofit organization shared an emotional moment as the life-changing transaction occurred.

“It’s made such a difference,” said Cox.

The 34-year-old veteran was in a car accident last December, and her car was totaled after she was hit by a semi truck in Cheyenne. She suffered a brain injury and has been on a pathway to recovery for the past year. When officials from the Cheyenne Veteran Affairs Medical Center heard about her accident, they reached out to help her on her journey.

This is how she was informed of the application for the car, found a way to attend WyoTech this winter and connected with fellow community members to build a support system.

Her counselor at the Veteran Readiness and Employment program, Heather Bash, said she saw passion and determination in Cox to work toward a stable future. Bash wanted to do everything in her power to get her there.

“When I see that in a veteran, I want to make sure, you know, that we’re taking the time to do that, whether it’s a warm handoff or that extra referral,” she said.

Cox needed the backing from her community due to the nature of the collision and her injuries. She was unable to go back to leading a normal life right off the bat, and it impacted her ability to provide for her family. She had a farm to manage, two children to care for and a veteran father with his own medical complications.

She was also going through a divorce, which put every responsibility on her shoulders. But she said with the residents of Cheyenne holding hometown and old-school values close to their hearts, she was lifted up and rallied around.

Not only was she chosen by Veterans’ Rock to receive the car, the organization helped provide meals, clothes, furniture and more when she needed it the most. Friends from local businesses Above the Rest Training Systems and Tail Waggers also helped on the farm, as well as helping her redevelop speaking and social skills after her brain injury and taking her to appointments.

“It’s hard ... almost makes me want to cry right now,” she said as she wiped away her tears. “It means a lot.”

The facilitator of the car donation and the many other services provided to Cox throughout the year was Veterans’ Rock Board President Cindy Stockdale. She started the organization close to a year and a half ago in order to help veterans and their families in need after seeing a gap in community assistance.

The organization operates a thrift shop on South Greeley Highway, and all of the funds from purchases go toward paying for clothing, personal-care items, foods, household goods, gas and gear. There is also a shower, washer and dryer, computers and a lounge area for any veteran to use.

The items for the store come from donations, whether that be actual items or monetary, including the car given away Saturday. Stockdale said she doesn't have the contact information of the woman who wanted Veterans’ Rock to have the car, but she is hoping she will reach out so they can thank her.

“This is probably one of the most supportive communities for veterans,” she said. “We’re a military town. Cheyenne is huge when it comes to that.”

Stockdale is a civilian, but she said she has always been drawn to providing these kinds of contributions for veterans in the area. And she said she has not done it alone; there has been an outpouring of love and support from many local individuals.

She said the freedom she has been given at the sacrifice of veterans is what drives her.

“I very much appreciate their efforts for me,” she said. “That’s what gets me up every morning and into Veterans’ Rock for these folks. Plain and simple.”

Jasmine Hall is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached by email at jhall@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter @jasminerhphotos and on Instagram @jhrose25.

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