Unused land has been upgraded to a beautiful park dedicated to wounded warriors.
Lurie Park is now home to Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch.
The ribbon cutting in Pinellas Park took place Wednesday morning.
“Parks are definitely handicap accessible but it’s usually an afterthought. What I wanted with this park was to design it around the wheelchair user,” said Mike Delancey, Founder of Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch.
Delancey is the brains behind the project.
He was wounded in Iraq.
His injury left him in a wheelchair.
“Sept. 1 of 2006, we were on dismounted foot patrol and I was shot by a sniper,” he said.
Delancey wasn’t the same when he returned home.
“You know, everybody has that ‘why me?’ moment. My dad was a very strong supporter of me. My friends and my family sort of kick me in the butt and got me out of the house,” he said.
Delancey now helps others, speaking to thousands of wounded warriors across the country.
Administrators with the city approached him about the land which now features a dog park, wheelchair court and outdoor fitness station.
“I sort of came up with the idea to make a 10 acre recreational park that’s completely wheelchair accessible from front to back,” said Delancey.
Others continue to donate.
Armed Forces Families Foundation raised over $60,000 for a new pavilion.
“There’s such a huge population of veterans here. Knowing what they were doing, it totally brings families together, a park space, so it was a natural fit for us to be apart of it,” said Niki Austin.
Delancey said the park is a symbol of hope.
“Find your passion again, whether it’s fishing, kayaking, biking, wheelchair basketball. You know, it’s all out there for you. So stop making excuses to sit at home and do nothing,” he said.
The park is expected to be completed by the end of the year.