William Breyman takes notes in class at UW-Whitewater in 2017.


Life is hard for most of us. Getting a little help along the way can make a big difference.

William Breyman sees his vocation as helping others. But later this year, he will be the one benefiting from a big helping hand.

Breyman, of Janesville, just graduated with a degree in social work from UW-Whitewater. While there, he worked an internship in the university’s Student-Veterans and Military Services Office under the tutelage of office coordinator Richard Harris.

Harris said Breyman made a big difference in the lives of other veterans on campus.

Harris was so impressed that one day he approached Breyman and said he was submitting his name to the Progressive Insurance Keys to Progress program, which helps needy and deserving veterans. The prize: A newer used car.

The 36-year-old immediately thought it would be a great thing for one of the veterans who come to him for help.

But Harris insisted that Breyman should be the one.

“I don’t do it for the reward, but OK,” Breyman remembers thinking.

He filled out the paperwork, and after months went by, he wasn’t expecting anything to come of it.

Then he got a phone call telling him he had won. He thought it was a telemarketer at first.

Last Friday, he sat down with a Progressive representative to sign the papers. He’ll received a blue 2016 Mazda CRX in a November ceremony.

The 14-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force is the father of four, all girls. He gets around with a 2010 Mitsubishi Galant with more than 130,000 miles, he said.

Breyman said he was told he is one of 100 nationwide this year, two in Wisconsin.

He finds the idea of getting a free car “surreal” and “weird.” He feels there must be some kind of catch, but there isn’t, the Progressive representative assured him.

“I don’t ask for anything,” he said. “I just do what I’m supposed to do. I just help.”

Breyman has another year of school at George Williams College of Aurora University to get a master’s degree before he’ll be employable, he said.

He’s hoping to land a job where he can continue helping veterans with the Veterans Administration.