Meet Kenny

| 4 min read | 33 min listen Screen Shot 2022-03-10 at 6.36.24 AM

US Navy Veteran Kenny Jary—or “Patriotic Kenny” as he’s come to be known in his community—knows what it’s like to...

US Navy Veteran Kenny Jary—or “Patriotic Kenny” as he’s come to be known in his community—knows what it’s like to rely on a mobility scooter for even the most simple of freedoms. So when his scooter broke down, his friend Amanda Kline started a GoFundMe to help raise funds for a new one. Kenny’s community showed up in a big way, and when they raised far more than they ever expected, Kenny decided he wanted to pay it forward. With Amanda’s help, Kenny set out to use his sizable TikTok following to help other veterans—and they were blown away by what happened next.


80-year-old Navy veteran Kenny Jary has been a local celebrity in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, for some time. He can often be seen riding around town on his star-spangled-banner-themed mobility scooter, making conversation with people and exchanging stories for quality time, smiles, and laughs with friends and strangers alike. To Kenny, having a scooter that can take him around town means freedom, just like living in America means freedom to him.

“I can walk a little bit, but my health limits how far I can go. Having a scooter means I can meet more people, make them smile, and just talk to them.”


One day, a fellow Mahtomedi resident named Amanda Kline was chatting with a friend who owns a local coffee shop. She told Amanda about Kenny—one of her regular customers—and that they would hit it off if they ever met. As chance would have it, they happened to cross paths the very next day. They talked for hours during that first encounter and struck up a fast friendship. After a while, Amanda thought of an idea: to make a TikTok for Kenny to share his joyful personality with the world.


“Kenny’s personality is contagious, everybody loves him. I thought there was no better way to capture Kenny than through video,” says Amanda. “I thought we would be successful if 200 people were able to have access to Kenny. So I set up his TikTok and started making videos, and away it went.”

About a month after Amanda started the TikTok account, Kenny’s scooter broke down and couldn’t be repaired. Kenny was devastated. So, Amanda decided to share the news on his TikTok account.

“The whole point of it was to highlight to the world that this joyful guy isn’t always happy. There are struggles in his life just like everyone else,” Amanda explains. “But you too can overcome them and still be joyful.”

Comments came pouring in from fans saying that he should set up a GoFundMe so people could help him repair or replace his scooter.


“I had never even set up a GoFundMe before,” Amanda says. “I’d seen them, I donated, but I’ve never launched for myself. And right there in the coffee shop on my phone, I was like, well, let’s create an account.”

The donations started coming in, one after the next. After just a few days, Kenny was floored to hear that they had raised $5,000—more than double the original goal.

“I had a hard time believing that there’s all them nice people who would do something like that,” Kenny recalls.

For veterans that need access to things like mobility scooters, medication, and mental health care, price is just one of the hurdles that many face. As it would turn out, the simple fundraiser that Amanda started on her phone in a coffee shop ended up raising over $110,000. True to form, Kenny immediately used the extra donations to pay it forward.

To help even more veterans, Amanda and Kenny launched a brand new GoFundMe, this time with the goal of giving away mobility scooters to other veterans in need. So far, their new fundraiser has raised over $45,000, and they’ve been able to give away more than 50 mobility scooters to deserving recipients.


“I want to do this more and more every day now, just to get out and help them and pay it forward,” Kenny says.

Amanda added, “It’s just amazing. We can only do so much by ourselves. When other people start joining the momentum, that’s when things get exciting.”

For Kenny, the opportunity to help others like him live their lives with freedom, dignity, and joy tugs at his heartstrings.

“I just break down when we give these away,” Kenny shares. “It’s more than an honor. I guess I’ll put it to you this way—it feels like I’m going back into the United States Navy. We’ve got such a beautiful country, and we have freedom. It makes me so happy that we’ve got so many good people out there.”