MN TikTok star, Patriotic Kenny, increasing efforts to assist fellow army veterans
Kenny Jary has been on a mission to help others since a fundraiser for his broken scooter topped $ 100,000.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Minnesota – When Kenny Jary made his annual trip to the local IHOP for a free Veterans Day meal, the 79-year-old Navy veteran who went on to become a TikTok star made a big splash.
“I don’t know how to use (TikTok),” said Air Force veteran Lolly Fread. “I’ll probably have to ask him.”
Fread and her friend, Army Veteran Wendy Sederstrom, don’t have to be in the popular video app to enjoy international coverage of Kenny’s story.
When Jary’s mobility scooter broke down in September, a series of TikTok videos went viral and resulted in more than $ 100,000 in donations. Jary then promised to keep paying it and buy at least 25 scooters for other veterans in need. Since then, money has poured in and he now has enough to buy 44 scooters, and the trend is rising.
“It was so heartwarming to see this man who was getting so much money go ahead and turn around and help other people,” said Fread.
On Veterans Day, Jary sat down with KARE 11 to discuss how their mission to give back has taken a new turn. Patriotic Kenny has now teamed up with the Infinite Hero Foundation to continue raising funds for veteran mobility, mental health support, and suicide prevention.
“I’ve got so many generous people and I want to keep paying and giving back,” said Jary.
He says it’s the least he can do since he got his new scooter, paid off debts and moved into a new home last week.
“It’s a whole new world,” said Jary.
It is a world that now has more than 1.3 million TikTok followers and an international audience thanks to several major TV appearances. He traveled to New York City last month to appear on the third hour of NBC’s Today Show.
Kent Erdahl: “How was this trip?”
Kenny Jary: “Oh! I’ll start crying. It was so beautiful. It was wonderful. They treated us like kings. This is the first time I’ve flown in 43 years.”
And while the travel and money are great, Jary says that there is one thing he appreciates even more: the hundreds of letters, artwork, and other items sent to him by people all over the world. Most of all, he was touched by dozens of letters he received from other active duty veterans and servicemen saying he helped them brighten their day during difficult times.
Jary: “You can imagine how I feel about helping them when they see me on TikTok. You know, because they have a hard time.”
Erdahl: “How does that compare to last Veterans Day?”
Jary: “It’s hard to describe. (Last year) I was kind of in that depression. It’s not good. There are so many veterans who are injured and stressed and need help … mental help. If I can help you, then “I’ll try to help even more – maybe a hundred if I can – because it means a lot to me.”
To donate to Patriotic Kenny’s Mobility and Mental Health Fundraiser, click here.