TACOMA -- For the first time in months, Semisi Tokailagi is beaming. He has wheels, and that spells freedom!
The 26-year old soldier suffered a traumatic brain injury, partial paralysis and was partially blinded in a mortar attack in Afghanistan in 2011. He and his wife didn't have a car, so they relied on buses, taxis, even walking to go to Semisi's doctor appointments. On Tuesday, the couple was given a 2005 Saturn ION lovingly restored by Puget Sound CARSTAR Group, a coalition of auto body repair businesses.
"When we heard about Semisi's situation, there was no doubt we needed to do what we could to help him," said Kurt Johnson from Puget Sound CARSTAR Group. "Giving this car to Semisi seemed like the right thing to do. We are happy to give this to him before the bad weather starts."
This is the second year Puget Sound CARSTAR Group has donated a car to a veteran. Last year's recipient, Sandy, calls her restored mini van a "God send" allowing her to go to her doctor's appointments and transport others as well. Sandy drove Semisi and his wife, Miriama, to receive their gift car.
Semisi thanked the members of Puget Sound CARSTAR who gathered to cheer him on. But his smile said it all.
Editor's note: Puget Sound CARSTAR Group receives the vehicles from Esurance.