AFFF, WWAR debut new $61K handicap accessible pavilion at veteran-focused city park
Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch
Pinellas Park, FLA. – Feb. 13, 2019
Volunteers from the Armed Forces Families Foundation helped celebrate the opening of a new handicap accessible pavilion at Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch, a wounded veterans-focused outdoor recreation area at Lurie Park, during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday.
The brief ceremony included speakers from WWAR, AFFF and city leaders, as well as a free lunch, courtesy of local Taco Bell franchise restaurants.
Construction on the new pavilion began late last year after team members from AFFF presented a $61,794 check to WWAR as part of the park’s grand opening ceremony on Sept. 1, 2018. The funds were raised through AFFF from donations and fundraising events, like the Skyway 10K.
The new large pavilion will serve as a shaded gathering point for the park and will allow veterans and their families to enjoy picnics, outdoor entertainment and community events, while connecting with one another.
“We are proud to support WWAR’s work with our nation’s heroes and help further the development of this beautiful public park,” said Niki Austin, a spokeswoman for AFFF. “This project was made possible by the generosity of local donors, our sponsors and the thousands of individuals who participated in the inaugural Skyway 10K. Because of them, service members and others visiting the park will be able to enjoy this new facility.”
The Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch is a city park open to the general public but will focus on serving as a resource center for wounded veterans by offering activities, equipment and facilities that are fully handicap and wheelchair accessible. The park features cycling trails, a multi-purpose court, an accessible workout station with ADA-compliant fitness equipment, dog park, children’s playground and a memorial garden to honor fallen soldiers of Pinellas County.
The park is an important community resource due to its close proximity to two VA hospitals, including the CW Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which is one of the nation’s premiere treatment and rehabilitation centers for injured veterans, and the James A Hayley VA Hospital, which is one of two top specialist spinal cord injury hospitals for veterans. Additionally, Pinellas County is home to many veterans and their families with a veteran population of 88,360 in the county as of 2016, many of whom suffer from an injury sustained either in conflict or after service.
In addition to the park, Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch is a local charity organization that is completely volunteer-operated led by local wounded veteran Mike Delancey in partnership with the City of Pinellas Park. The mission of the WWAR is to inspire, motivate and strengthen warriors by providing various recreational activities in a safe and relaxing environment.