WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKOW) -- It was a long week, but a Deerfield veterans help group finally made it to Washington, D.C. to walk in the inaugural parade.
"At Ease", an organization which uses horses to help veterans struggling with conditions like PTSD, was invited to be in the inaugural parade. Unfortunately, just three hours from Washington, D.C., their truck broke down. Co-founder Paulette Stelpflug says they were towing a trailer with three horses and couldn't find rental equipment in West Virginia to get them the rest of the way.
All along their journey, with phone call after phone call, At Ease found generosity. The group got in touch with a boarding farm that took in the stranded horses for free. WBOY, our ABC affiliate in West Virginia, caught up with the owners on Sunday night.
"Billy went and picked them up and brought the three horses here and we turned them out," says Karen Coombs, with Broken Arrow Stable. "Somebody from Wisconsin sent three young boys in truck, they drove all night to get here."
Those three young men picked up a borrowed truck and drove all night to rescue the stranded group. Finally, after days on the road and help along the way from many wanting to cover their costs, they finally made it to D.C. on Sunday night.
Stelpflug says they got up at 4 a.m. on Monday to be in line for the parade by 6:15. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the veterans who devoted their lives to the country, to be able to carry the flag in the parade that honors President Obama's inauguration.
Veteran Terry Virgil carried the American flag as the group passed where the president sat to watch the parade and got a special thank you.
"The president saluted him [Terry], put his hand to his heart, pointed straight to Terry in his chair, he was clapping and you could read his mouth, he was saying 'thank you'," says Stelpflug.
Stelpflug says she and the rest of At Ease are so grateful to all the people that helped them along the way, to have a chance to complete their mission and help yet another veteran get over a lifetime of struggles with PTSD.
"There was no price, not even enough thank yous," says Stelpflug. "[Terry] was so proud, it really helped him heal, it really did."
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