By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota veteran received the surprise of his life Sunday, all thanks to his rapid rise to stardom as a social media celebrity.

Kenny Jary, a Navy veteran from Willernie in Washington County, is better known as “Patriotic Kenny” to his 1.1 million TikTok followers.

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From his fans’ generosity, Jary was gifted a new mobile scooter at North St. Paul’s Veterans Memorial Park. Jary had been without one for weeks.

A man that isn’t shy about his emotions, Jary broke down when he saw the new scooter.

“This is a Cadillac of ’em all. It’s [like] $10 million to me,” Jary said. “Right now, there’s not words I can say, I’m so happy.”

Kenny Jary (credit: CBS)

The GoFundMe for Jary’s scooter raised enough money that he and Amanda Kline — his neighbor, friend and videographer — are now giving free scooters to 25 other veterans around the country.

“We started already announcing it [Sunday],” Kline said. “We called two veterans, it was awesome. One of the highlights of our lives.”

Jary says he’s going to do his part as much as he can to reach out to fellow veterans. He shared in the special moment Sunday with his best friend, Jerry, and Jerry’s daughter, Jenny, who’s Kline’s best friend. Both Jerry and Jenny are Deaf.

“The four of us have become the crew,” Kline said. “Two Deaf, two hearing. Kenny’s learning sign [language] and I already know sign.”

Together, they plan to use this new platform to do good in the world.

“Ever since I went back to church, my whole life has changed,” Jary said. “I got angels all over, especially these angels.”

Jary’s passionate about reaching out to vets like him in order to help prevent suicides. Recent data shows the suicide rate among veterans has increased 35% since 2001.

David Schuman