Jay Leno is one of the richest and most successful showmen in all of the world. In recent months, his show, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” has proven to be a smash hit for CNBC, further extending Leno’s time on top while showcasing his unparalleled love for automobiles. But none of this success means anything when compared to the kindness and gratitude that he has shown our troops over the years.
Leno says, “Sometimes I think when you’re a soldier, you get this feeling that you’re all alone and the rest of the country doesn’t care. So when people take a moment to stop and go, hey you, thank you very much– I think it does something for them.”
Leno originally met Corporal Laberge years ago while doing a series of USO comedy tours for the troops. Travelling alongside fellow NBC personality Al Roker, Leno came to find an even greater appreciation for the men and women in the service.
Leno says, “When I travel to entertain the troops, the best part… is the few minutes I get to spend with each soldier. Behind every handshake, every hello, is a great kid. And I wanted to introduce the world to one of them. We sort of took all these wounded warriors and did a lottery and picked a soldier at random and drew something for him, and hopefully, it expresses what we want to do for all soldiers.”
Corporal Laberge just happened to be the recipient of that lottery, but his story is certainly one that warrants this extra compensation. While serving, Laberge was seriously wounded after shrapnel from an Afghani suicide bomber ripped through his left arm and leg. The blast not only left his extremities in bad shape, it damaged his brain, forcing him into multiple surgeries.
After handing the Hellcat over on NBC’s Today show, Leno said, “It’s yours. America loves you. Thank you. Have a lot of fun, don’t get any tickets.”
Laberge’s response: “I can’t promise that.”
In the end, Leno couldn’t have felt better about the gift, saying, “Everybody helps the soldiers with medical issues and all those important things, but sometimes, that can be like getting socks for Christmas. You want to give them something that’s fun, something that has nothing to do with what happened to them.”