Sgt. Nick Nichols wishes he could have a guide dog, but at nearly 100 years of age, it would be quite an undertaking to introduce a new pup into his life.
So, for his milestone March 20 birthday, he would like to help provide the freedom and comfort of a service dog to another veteran in need.
“Doing something to help veterans feels much better than getting any present,” Nichols tells PEOPLE in an email typed by his daughter.
The WWII Army veteran — who served in the Asia-Pacific campaign from 1941 to 1944 — has so far raised $700 of a $34,000 goal, the latter equaling the cost to train one dog for Patriot PAWS (veterans involved with the program receive the service dog at no cost).
Cheryl says this spirit of giving is very typical of her father, who lives with her in Plano, Texas, where he is in great health (he takes no prescription medication!) but is 85 percent blind and has trouble hearing.
“He is kindest, sweetest, most generous man I’ve ever known, that’s why it’s an honor to care for him,” Cheryl tells PEOPLE, adding that she’s throwing him a party on March 18 to celebrate. “The more time I spend with him, going over all the memories, he’ll tell me bits and pieces of stories, it’s just a blessing. I feel pretty blessed to have this opportunity to spend time with him.”
Cheryl says her father received an honorable discharge from the Army in 1944, went to school on the GI bill and later worked for Ford Motor Company as a staff accountant. But, clearly, his time in the service has stuck with him.
“He just amazes me at 100, he lives to the true motto of the 206th coast artillery in WWII,” she says, “Their motto was to never give up.”
Nichols, who also raised money for Patriot PAWS at his 99th birthday party last year, hopes to raise enough this year to help someone who really needs it.
“I’m considerate of wounded veterans in need and if a service dog will help them,” he says, “then that’s a great thing.”
To contribute to Sgt. Nick Nichols’s fundraiser, click here.