SEBRING — Patrons of Sheila's Corner Pub in downtown Sebring enjoy the bar because of the atmosphere and the people. You see some of the same familiar faces from day to day. Former U.S. Army Ranger and Vietnam War veteran Terry James is one of those faces. James likes to hang out at Sheila's and talk about American history and science. "He comes in and has coffee with me," said Sheila Kuyrkendall, owner of Sheila's Corner Pub. "He has such wonderful stories."
James normally gets around on his three-wheeled bicycle. That is, until recently when it was stolen. After finding out about the theft, Kuyrkendall and a few of her customers went to work organizing a fundraiser for James, to get him a new bicycle and the accessories he needed.
Joining Sheila's was Faded Bistro & Beer Garden as well as Legacy Bicycles. Original Vincent's New York Style Pizza also made a cash donation.
The fundraiser for James was held this past Sunday, Aug. 4 at Sheila's Corner Pub. A packed house helped donate cash and were on-hand enjoying food from Vincent's, all in attendance to see the joy in James' face when he was presented with the new bicycle.
Overall, the pub's efforts raised $300 in cash for James, with more support still ongoing. Kuyrkendall said she received several phone calls on Sunday from people who wanted to donate and help out, but couldn't get to the pub in person, still pledging to send James something through the mail or some other means.
The biggest donation of the night came in the form of a brand new, yellow three-wheeled bicycle courtesy of Legacy Bicycles. "Terry appreciated that," Kuyrkendall said. "I've never seen so much gratitude from one person."
Dan Andrews, owner of Legacy Bicycles, got involved with the cause after a couple of Faded employees shared James' situation with him. "It played to my heart strings," Andrews said. "And it was a good opportunity to help a veteran."
Andrews was familiar with James, having met the veteran on a couple of occasions. Andrews and his crew were more than happy to donate a bicycle for James. "This was his only means of transportation," Andrews said. "Getting out and socializing is important to him."
Legacy donated a yellow Miami Sun adult three-wheeler. With a portion of the donations collected, Legacy was also able to provide James with the necessary safety equipment such as lights, a safety flag and even a lock to help keep it safe.
Andrews points to Kuyrkendall and the ladies at Faded as responsible for spearheading the event. "They made it happen," Andrews said. "They have huge hearts."
The remaining funds raised will go towards helping James with feeding himself and his cat. A widower, James had no children to help him. Instead, his community stepped up.
"It couldn't have been any nicer," Kuyrkendall said. "I was so proud."