Side of Ranch: Jay Heater
Carl Moore sat in his wheelchair April 3 and peered out at 150 people who were all ready for 18 holes at Rosedale Golf and Country Club.
He made it sound like he was the lucky one, even though in his present state, it's a long shot he will ever play the game.
"This whole event is so heartening to me, the support, the generosity," Moore said. "Everything I see you people represent ... I just can't put it into words. Thank you."
Moore, an Army Staff Sergeant, is the recipient of funds collected from the Homes for our Troops Golf Classic hosted by Rosedale Golf and Country Club and organized by Rosedale's Deb Kehoe and Kathi Skelton. This year's event is on track to raise more than $60,000 that will go toward an adaptive home to be built for Moore and his family in Land O' Lakes.
"Every year I was in country, we had some bad missions," Moore said. "You would wonder, 'Is this worth it?' But then you see these people here today. I wasn't fighting for the government, or some political cause. I was fighting for these people."
The horrors of war can't be erased by a golf tournament, but certainly, the love shown at Rosedale helps Moore fight toward a brighter future.
It was June 4, 2013 when Moore was clearing a route in Afghanistan when "all Hell broke loose."
He said the enemy had set up a complex ambush, and he was caught in the crossfire. Standing in a completely flat area, he hugged the ground but couldn't get low enough. Taking a shot, he couldn't feel his legs.
Eventually, at the hospital, one of the soldiers shook out Moore's bullet-proof vest. It had absorbed several shots.
The one it didn't went through Moore's side, through a lung and exited through his spinal cord. He suffered partial paralysis.
Since arriving back in the United States, Moore has been trying to adjust to his life. He said most of us couldn't understand some of the little things that really matter to someone in a wheelchair.
He talked about trying to get close enough to the bathroom sink so he could shave. Try frying an egg while you are sitting down.
Eventually, he met a representative of Homes for our Troops, and he became eligible for an adaptive home. Cabinets in the home are slanted to make it easier to pull close. His new stove top is only 3.4 inches thick and has no base so he can pull right up to it like a desk. "You've got to be careful when you're cooking bacon," he said with a laugh.
Army Capt. Bobby Withers, who has a prosthetic device from the knee down but was playing at Rosedale, is living in a home provided by Homes for Our Troops in Winter Garden. He said the organization prides itself on "Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives" and he said it has been especially true in his case.
As he explains it, if he suffers any kind of setback now as he expands his horizons, he can return to a home that will reduce his pain. "I hadn't run a foot since I got the house," he said. "Now I have run three 5Ks and three 10Ks. I am now going to run a half-marathon.
"When I was in my rental, I couldn't push myself. Now if I know I will be in a wheelchair for a week, like I will be after a half-marathon, the worst case is I know I have an adaptive home. Two years ago, I felt like I had one foot in the grave. Not now."
Everything in an adaptive home is completely level, in case the wheelchair is in use. Counters in the kitchen are lowered to provide wheelchair access.
Moore knows it won't solve all his problems, but it gives him a push in the right direction. He is looking forward to the day he moves into the new home with his wife, Heather, and their daughter, Addison.
Meanwhile, he wants all those people who help, and especially those people who supported the cause in Rosedale, that he will never forget them, the way they didn't forget him.
Maybe one time, he will be one of those in the golf cart.
"I'm still working on walking," he said. "I feel little things coming back all the time. If I could get to walk around with a cane, I would be happy. I know the body is an amazing thing and it can reroute its connections.
"I would love to try golf."