SAN DIEGO — Over the the last 32 years, the San Diego Festival of the Arts has raised more than $2.5 million for San Diegans with disabilities.
In Monday's Zevely Zone, Jeff was invited to meet one of the 23 non-profit organizations that receives donations from the art festival.
Most members of the Paralyzed Veterans of America are kicking up dust in Santee with small race cars, but Buddy Wachtstetter, an Air Force veteran paralyzed in 1970, still prefers to fly.
Buddy is here to fly a drone.
"I never thought I'd see 70. I tell people all the time I am way past my warranty," Buddy said with a grin.
He is surrounded by fellow paralyzed veterans like Navy Veteran Dave Smith who survived the Gulf War only to return home and become paralyzed in an accident.
"You only have right now guaranteed. We are horrible about not realizing that," said Dave who is paralyzed from the shoulders down.
Dave finds his joy from a joystick he rewired so he could drive his race car with his face.
"So you've got steering, throttle and brake, all right here?" Jeff asked.
"Yeah," responded Dave while ripping up the track.
Duane Norman, another Air Force Veteran, crashed a race car in 1970.
"My wife said if I do it again we are going to have to talk," said Duane.
He says everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning. "We all have a desire to live a normal life."
Which is why the money that helps pay for this program is so vital. This program and 22 other non-profit organizations survive thanks to donations from the San Diego Festival of the Arts.
"You know it's an opportunity to give back to the community. I am a native San Diegan," said Don Ludwig, the festival's co-director.
This will be the 33 year, Don and a handful of volunteers from the Torrey Pines Kiwanis Club organize the San Diego Festival of the Arts. Their goal has always been to spoil San Diegans with fine food, art and music so they can in turn make enough money to spoil veterans with, "surf programs, wheel chair basketball, tennis, it's just incredible to see and experience some of these folks," said Ludwig.
"And it just makes you feel good. Like you really are doing something that is important."
Seems only fitting that the service members, who gave so much defending our country should live a full life.
"It's our life's blood," said Duane Norman. "We say thank you every day, we try to."
From sailing, to racing cars, and even flying planes, when an art festival helps veterans, you've painted yourself a masterpiece.
"Without the PVA. God only knows where I'd be," added Dave Smith.