Serving heroes

By Milan Eagle Media

“We have one goal, to support physically disabled veterans who have served our country and improve the quality of their lives with custom modifications so they can live out their dream on 2-wheels” — Foundation 14
Maria Caruso and Jay Holly founded Foundation 14, a private, non-profit organization. Through neighbors they met Corey Smith a Marine and became even more committed to inspire and give back freedom.
Corey Smith grew up in Luna Pier and graduated from State Line Christian School, Temperance, in 2005. From an early age he wanted to join the military and signed up with the Marines when he was 17.
On Sept. 11, 2006, Lance Cpl. Smith and his unit were fighting the enemy in a hot zone of Habbaniyah, east of Ramadi. They were at a water purification plant when his unit engaged the enemy across the river. He was on the roof when the mortar landed near him. That blast took his leg below the knee.
Still conscious, with his leg barely attached, he knew it was bad but was glad to be alive. He was shipped to Germany and from there to Walter Reed Hospital. Going through rehabilitation and being fitted with a prosthetic Corey still believed he could rejoin his unit. He felt guilty because he wasn’t there helping his guys. The only reason he wanted to be in the Marines was infantry and when told his combat days were over…office work just didn’t seem to fit into his life.
Wondering what to do, he came back home and enrolled in college. In 2011 he earned a criminal justice degree from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Corey met Rachel in college and they’ve been married for three years. Corey works at the Federal Correctional Institution of Milan as a correctional specialist. He’s pursuing his master’s degree.
Corey never rode before but he’d always wanted to. There’s a freedom in riding and he could regain something he had lost, even though his prosthetic hadn’t slowed down his life and he’d run a 5K last year. He bought a Harley, only he had a problem with his foot dragging on the pavement.
Jay Holly and Maria Caruso were already thinking of raising money for modifications so wounded vets can ride. When they met Corey in August they were inspired and Foundation 14 was launched quickly raising all the funds to cover the modification expenses for Corey’s bike. Harley partnered with the only vendor in the country for the fabricated part they needed. This veteran motorcycle modification program wants to make a difference in lives and they’re getting lots of community support.
On October 8, 2016 with over 300 people in attendance Inaugural Recipient Corey Smith was presented his modified 2009 Harley. He can now ride safer and without his foot dragging.
Corey, along with Jay Holly Co-Founder Foundation 14, Rodrick “Hot Rod” Beaton, Veteran USMC & ABATE of MI Region 14 and George Bennett, lead the ride of 174 bikes from Tecumseh Harley-Davidson to the American Legion hall on Wabash in Milan.

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