It was a celebration of patriotism, service and adaptability in McKinney Tuesday night as Smile Charities gifted Air Force Staff Sergeant Jason Morgan a home renovation.
Morgan was wounded in service 19 years ago on a special ops mission in South America when the vehicle he was riding in was ambushed. Morgan says he was thrown from the car before it rolled down the mountain, crushing him underneath.
He woke up two months later to find his back had been broken and that he’d lost the use of his legs.
In two decades he’s learned how to adapt, but he still faces daily challenges.
“From a wheelchair everything’s about 5 times tougher. Everything is. It takes 5 times longer to get dressed, to get ready, to just go get a glass of water,” said Morgan.
That’s why McKinney based Smile Charities chose Morgan as its next benefactor.
“He was just making the best with what he had. But finding out what his true needs were, we were like, no, we can help you. We can make a difference,” said president and founder Jennifer Buchanan.
While they offered him a new build, he was happy in the house where he’s raising his three boys on his own. Instead, they got to work making it better for him.
Wood floors replaced carpet that made wheelchair movements difficult. A new chair lift on the pool meant water rehabilitation was more easily possible. And in his bathroom, a new sink, shower and closet door meant Morgan could get ready for the day with much more ease.
“To feel that what I did, people didn’t take it for granted. I mean, they know that freedom isn’t free and it’s paid for by the blood and lives and limbs like me. And when you’re fighting for a country that appreciates you and takes care of you. You know, makes all the difference in the world,” said Morgan.
Smiles Charity is currently preparing for its 15th build since it was launched 10 years ago.