HANNIBAL — A Hannibal veteran received a heartfelt surprise Wednesday, Oct. 30 as he prepared to instruct students at Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts.
Michael Parker, an Army veteran and program director and instructor with Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts, got a surprise visit from fellow disabled veteran Jon Kibbler along with Carolyn and Steve Kokjohn, with River Valley Horse Camp and Lodge in Farmington, Iowa.
The trio presented Parker with a check for $4,000, money raised from their annual Halloween ride.
“I don't think it's sunk it completely yet. I'm still in shock,” Parker said. “I'm extremely grateful, and I feel like there's probably a better cause... I'm going to try to find something worthy to put this toward.”
Parker said he enjoys inspiring actions like the donation.
“I enjoy hearing about these stories — it's crazy to be a part of them,” he said.
Kibbler recommended that the Kokjohns dedicate money raised from their annual Halloween ride to a veteran, and he told them he had Parker in mind.
“Everybody thanks you for your decision to serve our country,” Carolyn Kokjohn told Parker, and her husband said their first donation to a veteran would become a tradition.
Michael Parker's brother, Tony, expressed how much he appreciated the display of gratitude.
“I think it's awesome for them to think of my brother,” he said. “I'm glad that his service could be recognized.”