Local soldier surprised by former late night talk show host

Published: Nov. 1, 2016 at 5:29 PM EDT
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Some stories just grab your heart especially stories about heroes.

13abc's Alexis Means has been following a hometown hero for three and a half years.

This latest chapter started with a phone call from the today show then Jay Leno called 13abc. His mission was to surprise a local soldier who's fight is an inspiration to us all.

"She just thought she was with Jay Leno that day," said Stephanie Morris' mother Relda Bates.

U.S. Army Private First Class Stephanie Morris had no clue what the former late night star was planning. Leno flew Morris' mom, brother and nephew to Virginia. It was all part of a surprise salute to the soldier from Toledo. Leno cares about our troops. He's also a car enthusiast who gives back. Selecting one service member each year and giving them a special gift.

Alexis Means introduced you to the local hero in 2013. Morris was serving our country in Afghanistan just two days before her 24th birthday. Grenades hit her unit killing her team. She was the only survivor.

"I get a call from the casualty unit from the military. They told me what happened and they were flying her to Germany. She was just laying there tubes wrappings everything all over her feet and legs. I didn't know the extent of her injuries," said Bates.

Morris suffered a broken femur and foot, but she fought back to recover. Her Toledo community rallied behind her.

"She was real insecure about her scars and Stephanie has always been a fighter. Even as a little girl she's always been a go getter. I knew from day one she would get back on her feet and do what she needs to do. it took awhile. It was a journey," said Bates.

Doctors performed more than thirty surgeries. Her injuries got worse and her right leg was amputated below the knee.

"It's a hard pill to swallow. That's my only girl. That's my baby. She has her good days she has her bad days," said Bates.

She's learning to walk with a prosthetic leg and she's back on the hardwood playing the sport she loves.

"She's a go getter she's a fighter" said Bates.

Our hero who's beating the odds. A hero who's a purple heart recipient who sacrificed her body to save our lives. It's just part of why Specialist Stephanie Morris deserves this gift. Leno gave her a brand new Fiat Spyder.

"She didn't believe it. She was like really. She was like did the army approve this. He says everything is taken care of Stephanie. She was very surprised. She said I won't be driving it to the summer. So she has it put up," said Bates.