MCKINNEY, Texas - A North Texas veteran who was severely wounded in Afghanistan has a new place to go for rest and relaxation — in his own backyard.
U.S. Marine Corporal Steve Aft lost both legs in battle and had been unable to use his backyard because of the slope and uneven terrain. But a fellow veteran fixed that. It was a donation that will change this veteran's way of life.
A backyard sanctuary is exactly what Rick Turner had in mind when he founded the nonprofit, Spirit of a Hero.
"I'm just happy for him,” Turner said.
Marine Corporal Brian Aft is just his latest beneficiary.
"I'm in awe as to how much people put in to make this happen,” Aft said.
Every year, Turner, a Purple Heart recipient, himself, picks a fellow veteran to help. This year, he chose Aft, who lost both his legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan,
Turner enlisted the help of Tal Thevenot with AquaTerra Outdoors. The Dallas-based company donated $100,000 worth of work and supplies.
"We jumped on it. We're grateful for the opportunity to help him,” Thevenot said. “Raising the backyard over three feet and every surface, every finish is brand new."
"Unlimited gratitude and appreciation,” Aft said. “I can't even tell you how thankful I am for them doing this."
Aft envisions a lot of family cookouts, like the one happening Thursday night. It's also a new place for his dog, Buckshot, to roam. Buckshot, the bomb-detecting dog, also survived that same IED blast.
"I mean, the only thing I didn't like about being over there was getting hurt,” Aft said. “I was happy to do that. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
“It's a place they can chill together,” Turner said. “Brian likes being outside, and he wasn't ever able to before. Now, he's got a great place here for him and his dog."
Turner says this is exactly why he founded his nonprofit, seeing the excitement on Corporal Aft's face and knowing it will improve his daily life.