Mustang fans greet car that raises money for wounded veterans

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POSTED: Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 4:04am

A special muscle car is touring the country, to help a pair of our strongest veterans.

The High Five Tour is put on by Wounded Warrior Family Support, a non-profit that caters to injured veterans and their families. A Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, wrapped in red, white, and blue, will criss-cross the country, encouraging donations. Wounded Warrior Family Support has pledged $1 million to build two homes for servicemen who were badly injured in combat.

Fans and members of the local Mustang club visited Hollingsworth Richards Ford on Wednesday to see it during its only stop in Louisiana.

"They go fast," said Cory Gayle, whose parents own Mustangs. "They look cool."

But this Mustang Shelby has a heart that is even bigger than its engine.

"I owe it to the American public," said Col. John Folsom (Ret.). "We wouldn't be here today--this is the fourth time at Hollingsworth Richards in Baton Rouge--had the American public not embraced us."

Col. Folsom started Wounded Warrior Family Support in 2003. He got the idea while on active duty in Germany because of the number of injured Marines he saw at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

"For some reason, I can't explain, I really can't give you an adequate answer, I started collecting money to help the hospital with the wounded who were coming out of Central Command," he stated.

Col. Folsom is the first of many drivers who will take the Mustang to various Ford dealerships and events over the next several weeks.

All the money from the tour benefits SSgt. Jason Ross and Cpt. Anthony Simone. They are two of the approximately 50,000 veterans who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Wounded Warrior Family Support tries to give them and their families a better life, primarily through respite care and all-expense-paid retreats. Getting a home to fit their injuries is a big help.

"They're computers that look like homes," Col. Folsom said. "I can have a young soldier, say, a quadruple amputee, who can get himself into a room, the lights come on by themselves.

"Special shelving, special lighting, security systems, ramps, widened doorways. These homes are designed and built with those requirements in mind."

At each stop, people sign their names on the car and add small messages to the two veterans.

"We'll take this car to auction at Russo and Steele in January of 2015, see what that fetches and throw that in the kitty, and see what we can do."

The first time Wounded Warriors Family Support put a Mustang up for auction, it sold for $110,000. After the 2012 tour, the car sold for close to $1 million, and last year's auction brought in more than $500,000.

"With our Ford sponsors or dealers, the American public, we'll raise $1 million," Col. Folsom said. "I'm not concerned about that at all."

Col. Folsom added that he is already planning next year's tour. He plans to add a Dodge Challenger and a Chevy Corvette, so the tour can generate three times as much money. 

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