LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Early Times Whiskey and the non-profit group Active Heroes teamed up to give back to some very special Louisville members of the military. Out of dozens of nominations, five soldiers were selected.
Each of these veterans was told different reasons as to why they were needed at Sullivan University on Thursday and each one has a different military story.
“So Michael you are probably wondering what this is all about quite simply some people have taken notice of your service to America as well as your continued hard work here at home and we would like to say thank you,” said Active Heroes founder Troy Yocum.
Each military member was presented tickets to the Kentucky Derby, but that wasn’t all.
“You and a guest will be picked up at your home by a private driver and taken to Churchill Downs to enjoy the Kentucky Derby,” said Yocum.
The veterans will be seated in the Early Times Mint Julep Box and given plenty of spending money for the day at the track.
“I can’t believe it. I really am excited,” said Army Veteran Robert Perkins. “It will be my first Derby and this is definitely the way to do it.”
Not only is Perkins a disabled Army veteran who suffers from PTSD and Social Anxiety Disorder, he is a single parent to his 3-year-old son Eric, who has Spina Bifida.
“He is my whole world,” said Perkins. “He is everything to me. I live for my son.”
Perkins is also pursuing a degree from Sullivan University in financing. He was nominated for being a true inspiration to others.
“I just have to keep going for my son and for other soldiers and let them know they can make it and it will be alright,” Perkins.
Michael Hayes overcomes his own daily battles. He was wounded by a roadside bomb and is an above the knee amputee. Instead of giving up, he followed his dream and pursued a professional wrestling career.
“I just do my best to make what was a horrible, horrible circumstance into something awesome,” said Hayes.
While he was called to Sullivan University thinking he was going to speak to students, Hayes still left a message of encouragement even on those who were honoring him.
“Honor and duty comes from treating people the way you would like to be treated and continuing to spread enough positivity,” said Hayes. “It’s not just pulling triggers and putting on camouflages. It’s far beyond that.”
The servicemen and women selected are Michael Hayes, Robert Perkins, Jerome Adams, Trisha Poynter and Jason Brown.