DIAMOND BAR, Calif.—Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ken Cates, a 26-year veteran who received several medals through his career, has been named the winner of Nexen Tire America Inc.'s Nexen Hero III campaign.
Cates will receive a custom-built Jeep Wrangler equipped with 37-inch Nexen Rodian MTX Xtreme off-road tires. The contest, in its third year, honors a well-deserving veteran with a vehicle.
Cates said it was an honor to receive the vehicle.
"I've dedicated much of my life to military service, and what Nexen Tire is doing with this vehicle and its campaign is incredibly humbling," Cates said in a statement.
"I believe in creating an environment to help those who want to lead and to this day, I still get phone calls from young soldiers seeking advice and I'm happy to help them in any way possible. I couldn't be more thankful to Nexen Tire and what they are doing for veterans."
Cates began his military career in the Army Reserves at age 18, then enlisted in the Coast Guard, serving as a shipboard and land-based electronics technician for more than four years.
He then opted to enlist in the Army, where he served 22 more years. Cates was deployed during the Iraq War. Among the medals he received are the Bronze Star Medal; Army Commendation Medals and Army Achievement Medals; and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
Cates retired from the Army in August 2015. He now serves CEO of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity that serves three counties in the greater Killeen/Temple, Texas, area.
Since Cates took that role, the organization has tripled the amount of homes it completes each year, in addition to nine other projects centering around repairs and community revitalization. Cates and his team have impacted more than 30 families, and additionally, the group has completed 26 homes that were built specifically for homeless and disabled veterans.
In total, Cates' leadership helped the organization impact 150 families.
John Hagan, executive vice president of sales for Nexen Tire America Inc., said Cates' perseverance, his 26-year career and his ongoing commitment to his community stood out among the thousands of entries the company received.
"Ken continues to help active service members be the best soldiers they can and as the CEO of a local Habitat for Humanity, helps veterans and deserving families find a home," Hagan said. "For those reasons and more, we're honored to name Ken the vehicle recipient of the Nexen Hero III Jeep."
Nexen has extended the deadline for matching donations made to the Purple Heart Foundation. Nexen will match donations made through NexenTireUSA.com/NexenHero, until midnight on Dec. 31, up to $30,000.
Donations made to the Purple Heart Foundation will be used to help empower veterans several ways, including educational scholarships and medical claims.
"Our continued partnership with Nexen Tire helps our organization continue raising awareness not only for Purple Heart Medal recipients, but veterans like Ken Cates," Stephen Ruckman, CEO of The Purple Heart Foundation, said in a statement.
"Ken Cates and veterans like him deserve to be recognized for their commitment to their communities after serving their country, and programs like the Nexen Hero III campaign set the standard for representing veterans in the best way possible."
The recipient of the second Nexen Hero campaign, held earlier this year, was retired Army Master Sgt. Brian Porter, while the recipient of the first campaign, American Muscle for American Heroes, was retired Marine Cpl. Steven Diaz. Messrs. Porter and Diaz are Purple Heart Medal recipients.
For more information on the Purple Heart Foundation, go to purpleheartfoundation.org.