Marine Sergeant Ken Kalish, an American hero who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan, was given the keys to his new home this week in the Dallas-Fort Worth community of The Sanctuary at Lake Ridge. Kalish is getting a fresh start thanks to several local organizations that teamed up to build him the new mortgage-free, custom home. Operation FINALLY HOME, the Former NFL Players Association, the Dallas Builders Association, SouthStar Communities and Victory Custom Homes presented the keys to Sgt. Kalish at a dedication ceremony.
“We will never be able to repay U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Ken Kalish for the numerous sacrifices he made and the injuries he sustained while in combat," said Dan Wallrath, founder of Operation FINALLY HOME. “But the donation of this home is our token of gratitude for this hero who gave up so much for his country.”
Sergeant Kalish and his dog Fynn were trained to detect IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or “road-side” bombs. He only had 30 days left on his tour of duty when he stepped on an IED and was severely injured.
SouthStar Communities provided a one-acre homesite for Kalish in its Lake Ridge community on Joe Pool Lake. The homesite features a beautiful view of the lake and is located inside one of the community’s gated neighborhoods.
“We are proud to welcome Sgt. Kalish and Fynn to our Lake Ridge community. Our residents have strongly supported this project and are looking forward to having an American hero as their new neighbor,” said Thad Rutherford, COO of SouthStar Communities. “This project could not have happened without the community-wide support of so many volunteers and businesses, and we are thrilled to have been a part of it.”
Sgt. Kalish received a hero’s welcome with neighbors, contractors, sponsors and organizations on hand to show their support. Several former NFL players also were in attendance.
Operation FINALLY HOME builds homes for veterans who are 90-100% disabled but want to get their lives back on track. The non-profit has built more than 50 homes for veterans in Texas to date and relies on the donations of developers, homebuilders, contractors, corporate sponsors and individual contributors to continue building homes for those who have given so much for our country.
Victory Custom Homes, co-founded by former Dallas Cowboys player Bill Bates and Alan Dulworth, built the home.
“It was an honor to be able to build this home for Kenny, who has sacrificed so much for our country,” said Bill Bates, Victory Custom Homes partner and Super Bowl Champion. “So many companies and organizations donated their services to make this happen, and the finished product is truly a beautiful home that we hope Kenny will enjoy for many years to come.”
The 2,500 square foot, custom-built home features four bedrooms, three baths, a formal dining room, granite countertops and wood floors throughout. The home was built with custom accessories for Kalish including pull-down shelving and a wide master shower. Fynn also has plenty of room to run in the large, fenced backyard.
The home will be the first time Kalish has lived alone and he said he is looking forward to the peace and quiet.
“This is the beginning of a new life for me and I can’t thank everyone enough,” Kalish said. “Where my new home is – it’s truly a sanctuary with the view, the quietness and the peace. I think I’m most excited about the open floor plan, which is going to allow me to move around easier, especially the wide doors in the bathroom. It all just means so much to me.”
The Dallas Builders Association adopted Operation FINALLY HOME as its charity of choice encouraging all 900 members in DFW to participate in building Kalish’s home. In addition, the Former NFL Players Association also teamed up on the project for Sergeant Kalish’s home.
Operation FINALLY HOME was founded in 2005 as a non-partisan/nonprofit organization with the mission to provide Americans the ability to honor and thank America’s wounded and disabled veterans and the widows of the fallen who have sacrificed to defend our country in the global War on Terror. Operation FINALLY HOME addresses the most pressing need of our returning heroes -- a home to call their own. The organization’s reach has expanded well beyond Texas, and includes projects in New York, Kansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In 2010, founder Dan Wallrath was named one of the year’s CNN Top 10 Heroes in honor of the program’s efforts. More information can be found at Operationfinallyhome.org.
SouthStar Communities is a fully integrated real estate investment, development and management firm focused on the residential marketplace. Based in Austin, Texas, SouthStar has been creating healthy communities and a legacy of success throughout the Southern United States for a generation and has active communities in Dallas-Fort Worth, Bryan-College Station, the Texas Hill Country and North Carolina. Since its inception in 1999, SouthStar has acquired and developed residential assets valued in excess of $2.5 billion. The company continues to seek opportunities to leverage its experienced team and processes to deliver great experiences for owners and strong financial results for its portfolio partners. For more information, visit www.southstarcommunities.com.