PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- Hundreds of veterans and members of the community gathered Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch and annual "Alive Day."
- Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch celebrates grand opening
- Project started by Mike Delancey, a Marine paralyzed in Iraq
- Ranch fully wheelchair accessible offering a variety of activities
The Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch is a nonprofit organization that has partnered with the city of Pinellas Park to open an area that's 100 percent wheelchair accessible.
It's to help wounded warriors stay active.
The organization was started by Mike Delancey, a Marine paralyzed by a sniper shot while serving in Iraq in 2006.
The ranch and park will be a fully wheelchair adapted park offering cycling trails, outdoor fitness stations, a multi-purpose court for volleyball, basketball, rugby, baseball, bocce and tennis and a fully stocked fishing pond.
It will be also home to the organization's headquarters, a central veteran resource for all adaptive sports and recreational facilities.
"When you get hurt you start getting yourself into depression 'I can't do this I can't do that' and you end up staying at home," Delancey said. "What I'm about is helping them find their passion. Yes you can fish yes you can still kayak."
Delancey said the ranch will be a place that inspires warriors from all conflicts to go out and get active while forming bonds with fellow veterans who understand each other's experiences.
During the celebration, many veterans also took the time to remember the life of fellow veteran, Sen. John McCain.
"The veterans of my generation that are coming back , it encourages us to get into politics, to show that you don't complain about something if you're not going to do anything about it and he's a prime example of that," Delancey said.
That sentiment for McCain was felt by hundreds of other wounded warriors.
"He served proudly as a POW and refused to come home until he was the last man, that says a lot about character and I applaud the fact that he served his country with great honor and dignity," Retired Navy Seal Amir Pishad said.
"He really stood for what he believed in and what he's been through is just on another level," Air Force veteran Shawn O'Neill said. "We all owe him a lot."
During Saturday's celebration at the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch, the Armed Forces Families Foundation donated $61,000 for the construction of a new pavilion.
The Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch is open to the public and is located in Lurie Park at 5500 62nd Avenue North in Pinellas Park.