By Stacey Gualandi/June 6, 2012
It was a Memorial Day to certainly remember for one very special military couple. Former Marine Corporal Benjamin Reynolds and his wife Melissa were asked to appear at the Boulder City, Nevada, Best Dam BBQ Event to be saluted for his service to our country, but little did this injured veteran know that he and his wife were about to be given the keys to a mortgage-free home!
You can see the look of surprise on their faces when they were given the news:
The Reynolds’ have been living in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment in Southern California, but they’ll soon be calling Las Vegas home. Their new 3-bedroom, 2-and-a-half bath home was made possible by the Boot Campaign and their partner charity, the Military Warriors Support Foundation. Chase Bank and additional Las Vegas-area sponsors helped out as well.
I got to volunteer for the Boot Campaign and talked with the happy couple soon after they become official homeowners. Fighting tears, they said, “This is so exciting. We don’t know exactly what to say…!”
We’ve profiled the Boot Campaign in the past, and also interviewed two of the founding “boot girls,” Leigh-Ann Ranslem and Ginger Giles, on our radio show. By purchasing and wearing signature combat boots, they say it’s one way we all can give back when our troops come back. And the campaign’s on-going efforts to support our military never cease.
Meghan McDermott, the Boot Campaign’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, says you can see how purchasing and wearing the boots positively impacts someone’s life. “To not have to worry about having a roof over your head and to be able to just get started with that level of support… it does a wonderful service for our military community.”
Twenty-five-year-old Benjamin served in the Marine Corps from 2004-2008. During his tour in Iraq, he was operating a turret gunner on a seven-ton truck doing a supply run at night when his vehicle was hit by an IED. He sustained injuries, including shrapnel permanently lodged on the left side of his body.
Benjamin says, “Physically, I’m doing well, and now, after this good news, I’m mentally well, too!! We’ve moved five times in five years. I’m looking forward to settling for good in Las Vegas.”
They have two young daughters, with a third on the way. Melissa says she can’t wait to celebrate. “I’m going to go the Home Goods store right now!”
And not only is their home mortgage-free, the Reynolds’ will also be getting some home makeover help from the Toolbelt Diva herself, the Discovery Channel’s Norma Vally.
“I’m honored to make Ben and Melissa’s dream come true an even lovelier reality,” she says. “After walking with them room-by-room, discussing any special needs or visions they may have [construction-wise], and drawing from my experience working with homeowners, I’m excited to get started on helping them bring their customizations to fruition.”
The Boot Campaign doesn’t plan to stop their awareness efforts. They have plans to give away ten more homes over the next year.
Meghan says every time she appears at an event, she is reinvigorated. “To actually shake the hand of someone who is benefitting from our efforts it changes you. It leaves an imprint on your soul. Giving back to our military is so much bigger than you.”
For me, it was such a satisfying feeling to get my boots on, to express some patriotism, and to see someone rewarded who felt it was his duty to risk everything for our country. Now Benjamin and Melissa can honestly say they are finally home.