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Lawton Limo Company Starts Veterans' Bus Service

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LAWTON Okla_ In just a few weeks, Lawton's newest service will be up and running. It's a handicap accessible bus that will be used to tote disabled veterans around town for free!

It's been the dream of a local limo company owner to create a service that provides transportation for veterans, to help them visit their families more often or go to appointments. The whole project has come together in some pretty incredible ways!

Empire Limousine's Thomas Easterly's passion comes from a very personal place. Not only is he a veteran himself, he has plenty of friends at the veterans' center. In fact, it was one of them that inspired him to make this dream of his real.

"It tugs at my heart, because being part of them and knowing what they've been though, you've got to take care of them," Easterly said.

It wasn't until his friend, a disabled veteran, came home for a rare weekend away from the veterans' center that he decided to do something.

"We went and visited him," Easterly said. "He was laying there watching TV, and he asked, ‘How come I can't stay home?'"

Transporting disabled veterans is expensive, and there is only so much the center can do. So, Easterly stepped in with an idea.

"I said, ‘That's enough of that.' Being a person of action, I said, ‘I'm going to go get a wheelchair shuttle bus, and we're going to take these veterans, we're going to get them home.'"

Easterly scoured the web and found the perfect bus. He contacted the transit company in Oklahoma City.

"I explained it to him and he said, ‘If you want to do that, just come get it,'" Easterly said. "After I picked myself up off the ground, I'm like, ‘Are you serious?'"

The bus made it back to Lawton from Oklahoma City. It has the capacity to carry three wheel chairs and three attendants. It even has a motorized ramp for easy access on and off. Easterly knows his work now may benefit himself in the future. He's taking action now, hoping that someone will follow suit.

"Someday, I'm going to be there," Easterly said. "We're going to need this type of help. We may not have a lot of money, but I would hope that someone has this type of service when I get around to the point when I need it. I want to give it back, because I've had a blessed life."

Right now, the bus is going through inspections and getting insured. Easterly said it should be up and making runs in just a few weeks. All you'll have to do is call Empire Limousine to schedule a pick-up.

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association donated $2,500 to the cause. That donation is about half of what it costs to get the bus up and running for one year!

"I am so proud of what he's doing," Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association's Al Franz said. "He is a vet. He's a retired First Sergeant, a fellow brother, and he's out there taking care of our brothers and sisters that need our help. We're here to make it happen."

If you wish to donate to the cause, there is an account set up with Arvest Bank. Just tell them you want to donate to the Veterans' Bus Shuttle Fund.

 

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