American flag mural honors paralyzed Jacksonville veteran
"I'm not much of an artist, myself...so this is pretty incredible," Ben Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson doesn't consider himself an artist.
But Scott LoBaido does.
He's been painting his whole life. He prides himself in painting the American flag. A token of appreciation to all veterans.
"Everyone's treating these movie stars and sports figures as heroes when [veterans] are the guys that are heroes," LoBaido said. "They're my heroes."
Heroes like Tomlinson.
This 25-year-old is paralyzed from the chest down. While serving overseas, a sniper caught him in the back of the neck. He credits fellow Marines for saving his life.
"The real heroes are the guys that got up there in the line of fire, pulled me off that roof and literally revived me," Tomlinson said.
Revival. A seven-letter word meant for new beginnings. Goes hand-in-hand with LoBaido's favorite seven-letter word..."veteran."
The American flag LoBaido is painting on the back of the Jacksonville High School football field will be just across the street from Tomlinson's front door.
"He's going to have a down day, and I know he does," LoBaido said. "But if this makes him smile for two seconds when he wakes up in the morning...two seconds of a good day of a bad day...it's a win-win."
A win-win for Tomlinson that he hopes will be an inspiration for everyone.
"I hope everyone doesn't just think about me when they see this [painting]," Tomlinson said. "I hope they think about what it really stands for."
The mural will be dedicated Friday at 11:00 a.m. There will also be a concert, Sunday, May 19, in partnership with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which will be raising money for Tomlinson's new smart house in Jacksonville.