GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas & CEDAR HILL, Texas -- An American hero who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan will get a fresh start thanks to several local organizations teaming up to build him a new mortgage-free custom home. Operation FINALLY HOME, the Former NFL Players Association, the Dallas Builders Association, SouthStar Communities and Victory Custom Homes surprised Marine Sergeant Ken Kalish with the home, which is located in the Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie, Texas community of The Sanctuary at Lake Ridge.
"We're building a new home for this American hero but what we are really doing is helping rebuild his life," said Dan Vargas, Executive Director, Operation FINALLY HOME.
Sergeant Kalish and his dog Fynn were trained to detect IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or "road-side" bombs. He only had 30 days left on his tour of duty when he stepped on an IED and was severely injured.
"The entire community at The Sanctuary at Lake Ridge is embracing Ken," said Thad Robertson, Senior Vice President of SouthStar Communities, who provided the one-acre home site. "We want to welcome him home. We are blessed to have him serve our country and be a part of our community."
The veteran received a hero's welcome with the Grand Prairie Police Department Honor Guard on hand and fourth grade students from Lake Ridge Elementary reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, guests wrote "notes of love" on a wall that will become part of the home.
Operation FINALLY HOME builds homes for veterans who are 90-100% disabled but want to get their life back on track. The non-profit has built more than 40 homes for veterans in Texas to date and relies on the donations of developers, homebuilders, contractors, corporate sponsors and individual contributors to continue building homes for those who have given so much for our country.
Ken said he thought today was a final interview with the organization to determine if he would be a candidate for a mortgage-free home.
"When I came over the hill and saw the crowd, I was blown away," he said. "This allows me a chance to get my life back on track without wondering about how I'm going to take care of a mortgage."
Victory Custom Homes, co-founded by former Dallas Cowboys player Bill Bates and Alan Dulworth, is building the home.
"We're honored to build this house," said Bates. "We're going to be spending a lot of time together," he said to Kalish.
The Dallas Builders Association has adopted Operation FINALLY HOME as its charity of choice and is encouraging all 900 members in DFW to participate. In addition, the Former NFL Players Association is also teaming up on the project. NFL legends and businesses played in the Lake Ridge Patriot Cup at Tangle Ridge Golf Club and raised over $17,000 for Sergeant Kalish's home.