Striking a chord: Why a guitar means so much to one Lynchburg vet

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) A room filled with music playing and people dancing is not an unusual scene at Centra PACE in Downtown Lynchburg.

A few veterans frequent the senior center, and bring with them the entertainment. But in their routine, one person stood out.

“Tim says I want to learn how to play, I want a guitar, I want to learn how to play,” said Kathy Kolar, who dances regularly. “He's been doing this for over six months.”

Tim Coffey served in Desert Storm. He is currently able to stand and walk, but that's new. Coffey recently lost his leg in an accident and has worked to overcome a lot. With all of his hurdles, he still wanted one small thing: a guitar.

“It's just something I've been wanting to do since I was a kid and just never picked it up to learn,” said Coffey.

When the veterans come to play the guitar and dance downtown, Coffey’s eyes get big. He told them he wants to learn. And thus began the chain reaction through the veteran community, working to make it happen.

Kolar and Gary Witt, who plays the guitar, started spreading the word. Eventually, Rolling Thunder Veteran Group heard about Coffey and brought the request to Lois New Freedom Farm who ended up securing a guitar.

Today, it all finally came together.

Coffey was shocked.

“Lord have mercy,” he said.

He took the guitar, and the pick, a big deep breath and played his first chords.

“That's about all I can do,” he said after strumming it a few times.

The veterans looked on with tears in their eyes.

It turns out, Coffey was gifted a guitar at Christmas unbeknownst to the crew of vets working to get him one. However, Coffey says this one holds so much more meaning.

“It feels like to me that somebody still cares you know, for what we've done,” said Coffey.

He says he will take learning the guitar, as he did learning to walk again- one step at a time.

“I'm going to keep on plugging and keep on getting it,” said Coffey. “I'm just trying to do my best.”