The 79-year-old was surprised with a new scooter on Sunday and now he’s paying it forward.
NORTH ST PAUL, Minnesota — Editor’s note: Check back after this story airs on KARE 11 for the full video.
Through the power of TikTok, the world is falling in love with Minnesota veteran Kenny Jary.
Jary, 79, of Willernie, Minn. became a TikTok sensation after his mobility scooter broke.
Friend and neighbor Amanda Kline helped create his TikTok (@patriotickenny) back in August. Shortly after, a video posted on his scooter breaking down went viral. Since then, Kline’s GoFundMe for the U.S. Navy veteran has raised more than $111,000.
“It grew in like two weeks. It just flew up there. Pretty crazy,” Kline said.
Jary uses his scooter to get around town, visiting friends at coffee shops. Through the donations, Jary was able to get a portable scooter and a more heavy duty one.
Jary was under the impression that the portable scooter would not be here for another few weeks. But Kline was preparing the scooter, getting it painted in patriotic colors.
“He’s such a good guy, he really is,” Kline said.
On Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in North St. Paul, Jary arrived blindfolded.
Kline, along with their friends, surprised Jary with the folding mobility scooter.
With tears in his eyes, Jary said, “I don’t believe this.”
After taking a few laps on the scooter, Jary said, “It’s the nicest gift I ever had in my whole life.”
He went on to say, “It’s $10 million to me. It’s so fancy.”
Jary said he’ll be visiting all his coffee shops as early as tomorrow.
“I’ll start making my rounds because they’re asking where I am,” he said.
He also plans on using the scooter to reach out to more veterans. The suicide rate among active duty service members increased by 41% between 2015 and 2020, according to a Department of Defense report.
“I gotta get down and talk to them as much as I can. I’m losing my brothers and sisters,” Jary said.
Jary is also giving back to other veterans in need of scooters.
Originally, Kline and Jary thought they would only be able to give 10 veterans scooters. But thanks to wholesale prices, $20,000 from the GoFundMe account will be used to give 25 scooters. The recipients will be announced Monday on TikTok and GoFundMe.
“Isn’t that wonderful?” Jary said.
In addition to the scooters, donations on the original GoFundMe will help Jary get some new teeth, move into a safer home, and pay off debt.
Because hundreds of veterans submitted consideration for a scooter, Kline and Jary have launched a second GoFundMe page that will be used solely for purchasing and donating mobility scooters.