It was a bright sun shining day when over 100 Southwest Airlines employees arrived at the Creekwood Subdivision in Fort Worth, a Hillwood Development.
They unloaded the buses and Southwest’s VP Jeff Lamb, and I welcomed them to their service day. This amazing group gathered to put on an official “Welcome Home” ceremony and community BBQ together for Marine Corporal Zach Briseno, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Iraq.
Since losing both legs, Zach has had a tough time adjusting to his new life. He is no longer able to serve in the Marines and is a single Dad to 5-year-old Eli. As he pondered his future, he hoped to one day own a home. HelpingaHero.org made his dreams come true!
HelpingaHero.org is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) whose primary mission is to build homes for severely injured heroes who were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Zach’s home is the 25th home completed through their program and 6 more are under construction and a final one is being planned now. On August 30th, another 15 homes will be awarded at their National Gala where Laura Bush will be the Keynote Speaker and receive their “Patriot Award”.
The day started out with putting out flags throughout the community and preparing for the hundreds of expected guests. Around 11:00am, over 600 people had gathered and the parade kicked off led by Miss Rodeo Texas Celesta Harvey and Miss Harris County Rodeo Texas Teen Eric Lloyd, who have co-founded Queens for Troops benefitting HelpingaHero.org.
The Saginaw Fire Department, reps from Soldiers Angels, Kids R Kids, Southwest Airlines and a group of home recipients from HelpingaHero.org all preceded Zach and his family.
As the parade approached the beautiful four-bedroom Standard Pacific home, the crowd erupted with cheers and waving of flags as they welcomed this hero home. Mayor Mike Moncrief greeted Cpl Briseno flanked by SGT Eddie Wright, a double-arm amputee Marine, and Captain Dan Moran, who is burned over 60% of his body and is also a Marine. After the Pledge led by the Kids R Kids Pre K class and SGT Wright, the Miss Rodeo Texas queens led the National Anthem.
Chris Matzke who is the Division President of Standard Pacific Homes shared about all the adaptations made to Zach’s home…from lower counters, a roll in shower, a roll under sink, flush thresholds, accessible attic space, a safety sidewalk wrapping the home, and so many other things to make Zach’s life a little easier when he isn’t wearing his prosthetic legs and must be in his wheelchair. And a special thanks to the Semper Fi Fund for donating $25,000 towards the home to make certain Zach had everything he needed.
Spark Energy surprised Zach with the news that they will donate one year of free electricity and Conn’s donated the refrigerator and washer/dryer. And another highlight of the day is that Rooms to Go donated the furniture in the home.
After I joined with others to officially present Cpl Zach Briseno with the keys to his new home, he took the media on a tour of his home while the 600+ guests all headed to the community pool for a Bar B Que and lots of fun activities for the kids coordinated by Southwest Airlines.
Rudy’s BBQ donated the food and everyone had a great time eating the wonderful sausage and brisket, baked beans, potato salad, and all the great cookies and desserts.
What an amazing day!! The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing…and Zach got to sigh a big sigh and know he is HOME…
Please visit HelpingaHero.org to nominate a severely wounded hero injured in Iraq or Afghanistan whom you think is deserving of a new home.