Hug’s JROTC students vote on and perform monthly community service projects throughout the year. This month, cadets chose to turn their attention to the national nonprofit Homes for Our Troops. Money raised from Saturday’s event will help build a new home for Marine Sgt. Dylan Gray of Wellington. Homes for Our Troops aims to assist severely injured service members who need the ability to move freely within their home.
“I’m proud that they’re coming through with this project,” said Hug senior Army instructor Maj. Michael Blackburn. “We’re excited to support one of our local heroes.”
Blackburn heard about Homes for Our Troops on the radio and suggested the organization to the students. They became interested in finding out if anyone in Nevada had applied, visited the nonprofit’s website and found Gray, a Nevada resident who is in need of a new home.
Gray served in the Marine Corps for six years. He lost his legs below the knee during his third tour in Iraq in February 2007 after his sniper team’s Humvee hit an anti-tank improvised explosive device while on a reconnaissance mission. Gray woke up in a hospital in Germany three days later and then was flown back to a Navy hospital in Maryland for six weeks of surgeries and rehabilitation.
Today, Gray has prosthetic legs and uses a wheelchair. He’s in need of a house that is fully accessible to a disabled person, including doorways and a restroom and shower that need to be widened for his use. Gray said he’s humbled by the Hug students’ efforts to volunteer their time to not only raise money but to help build the house. Later this month, Blackburn will take about 40 cadets to Wellington to help build the house for Gray and his family.
“It’s pretty amazing for them to not even know me and take their time to pull off this fundraiser, especially from kids,” Gray said.
The fundraiser takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Grand Sierra Resort. Tickets can be purchased for $5 at the door. Hug cadets garnered multiple items for bid in a silent auction, such as gift cards to casino restaurants and movie tickets.