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Local veteran dealing with unimaginable tragedy gets wonderful gift

A local veteran in need of a car found her life crumbling around her until a local company helped her back into the driver's seat.

Cody Hall likes to help people. It's what she's done most of her life. From raising children to helping veterans to serving in the Navy.

It's what she does now at Progressive insurance.

But, it wasn't very long ago that this selfless hero needed help herself.

"I was transferring to New Jersey when everything changed."

In 2007, a multi-car accident brought Cody and her family to Mentor, Ohio, to stay with relatives. It was the start of a downward spiral Cody and her family couldn't have prepared for.

"I was in the middle of a transfer to New Jersey. We got in an accident in Wisconsin; we got here to work out insurance stuff and get a new car, and the day after we got here we found our youngest child had cancer."

Cody says her 4-month-old baby, Ashley, had a small bump on her skin that doctors told her to keep an eye on.

She knew something was terribly wrong when it started growing.

"The bump had gotten really large and I told my husband I wanted to take her to get checked out in the morning. When we woke up in the morning, it was so big it was splitting her skin."

The Navy rerouted Cody to Ohio so Ashley could receive treatment for a very rare form of cancer at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

From losing their car, to a devastating cancer diagnosis, Cody felt lost. "It was tough. It was more like auto pilot; that's the best way I can describe it. I was so focused on trying to take care of everything. I had to make sure the car was fixed and it turned out to be a total loss. Then I was trying to take care of my daughter and figure out hospital situations."

That went on for several months until Ashley couldn't fight anymore. She passed away at 15 months.

"It's one of those things I felt guilty, but it wasn't relief for me. It was relief for her that she was going to be at peace and not hurt anymore."

Cody needed to be with her family, so she made the tough decision to leave her career in the Navy.

She eventually started working at Amvets Post 40, a private club for veterans she was already a member of.

"And to listen to the stories and see their faces and smiles, it just made my day."

In 2016, a Progressive employee and fellow club member asked Cody if she knew anyone that could benefit from the Keys to Progress event -- an annual giveaway, where
Progressive partners with the National Auto Body Council's Recycled Rides program to donate cars to deserving veterans and veterans organizations.

"Long story short, I couldn't think of anybody better than her and she is so more deserving than that," said Ron Barnicoat, commander, Amvets Post 40.

Cody was humbled. "It really made me happy that all the good I felt that I was doing, somebody noticed."

And Progressive noticed too, picking Cody to receive a new car just before Christmas.

"The fact that I had gotten picked was overwhelming. So I took my kids out of school so they could experience it with me. They pulled the covers off all the cars."

Thanks to the Keys to Progress event, Cody has a new car. She also has a new career, applying for and soon after getting hired at Progressive insurance.

"I don't think everybody realizes that not every veteran comes home in one piece. It's not always easy to find a job that fits you and the new you, because not everyone is the same when they come home. I don't think I'm different than anybody else. I know that everyone has their struggles in life; everyone goes up and down. It's just a matter of how you land when you bounce back."

Cody says what she remembers most about receiving the car was when her teenage son looked at her and told her he was proud of her.

Since 2013, Progressive has donated more than 300 vehicles to deserving veterans and veterans organizations.