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Michael Roy has not only been traveling town with his East Haven Proud USA Truck and patriotic music, but he has also been donating to a number of initiatives in town. (Photo courtesy of Michael Roy )
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As someone who suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and the repercussions of a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb while serving in the Marines in Ramadi, Iraq, Michael Roy knows the importance of staying connected and keeping spirits high. When he heard that a friend was feeling lonely during quarantine, he was inspired by a social media post he saw about a DJ truck in the midwest.
“My buddy was cooped up and home and I know everybody loves USA proud music—it’s uplifting and inspiring,” says Michael. “I started driving around in my blue Dodge playing music and it blew up from there. I’m coming by to let them know they’re not alone with these stay-at-home orders and we’re all in this together. I’m just a simple EH Proud USA truck that goes around to play music to lift spirits.”
Residents of East Haven began looking forward to hearing the patriotic music being played from Michael’s blue Dodge. He started a Facebook page—East Haven Proud USA Truck—so the different areas in town knew when he could be expected.
“People really liked it and now there’s a lot of residents who expect to see me almost every single night,” says Michael. “People’s spirits are lifted. I have to keep waving my hands the whole time because there are so many people waving from windows, clapping, and kids dancing. The community reaction is awesome and so motivating—that’s one really big thing that keeps me going.”
As Michael’s truck became more well-known, he started to receive requests to participate in birthday parades or drive-bys. Michael also created a GoFundMe page so those who are able can donate. Donations collected benefit a variety of causes in town, including supporting first responders and front-line workers, the East Haven Food Pantry, and the East Haven Animal Shelter.
In addition to collecting donations through the GoFundMe page, Michael also collects items as he travels through town. Residents are able to safely hand off donations for the food pantry or animal shelter. Michael also held a drive-by drop-off at his house last week.
“We’ve been able to take care of first responders and took care of almost every front-line worker at stores in town with pizza donations,” says Michael. “We treated the dispatchers in town to food from Anthony’s Ocean View. This has also inspired others to hold food drives, too.”
Michael is not only collecting items for those in need, but giving to others as well. He has teamed up with four local seamstresses, who have been busy sewing washable masks for residents in need. Michael has been able to distribute the masks to those in need along his route. He also has made trips to the school meal pickup sites to pass out masks.
Michael’s East Haven Proud USA Truck became so well known in town that McDermott Cheverolet reached out to him to see how it could get involved. Just two days later, there was a new East Haven Proud USA truck on the road in the color of Michael’s original truck, with flags and more.
“They wanted to offer any kind of support and they said they’d like to set me up with the truck,” says Michael. “Within two days, they did up a whole truck with lettering and flags. They donated this truck to be out on the streets as the East Haven Proud USA truck. I feel honored to be able to drive it.”
Though Michael has only lived in East Haven for about five years, he has come to call the community home. He grew up in Litchfield County and decided he wanted to change the direction his life was headed so he joined the Marines, serving from 2008 to 2010.
“At the time, I had nothing going on and wanted to better myself,” says Michael. “Ever since then, I’ve been with that military mindset—I’m all about the USA and America. I love my country, I love to serve my country, and now I’m serving my community.
“People say they’re so inspired and motivated by this and knowing we’re proud Americans and East Haven Proud, we will get through this together,” adds Michael. “This is the town I’m staying in. I love my community, how tight-knit it is, and how everyone is so supportive of each other. Doing this keeps me motivated.”
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