CRESTVIEW — U.S. Gold Gymnastics and Cheerleading staffers want to help provide a wheelchair-accessible home for a wounded soldier.
Master Sgt. Joseph Deslauriers lost his left arm and legs in 2011 while serving as a U.S. Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technician in Afghanistan.
The details are hazy, he said.
"I don't really remember what happened during the incident," Deslauriers said. "I just remember what happened afterwards."
His Silver Star medal — considered the third highest honor for bravery during combat — helped fill in the blanks.
Deslauriers gave medical attention to a wounded Marine after clearing a path toward a disabled military vehicle struck by an improvised explosive device, the award citation said. Deslauriers received his injury after clearing a route for additional military personnel. Deslauriers is credited for clearing a landing area for a medical evacuation helicopter and helping others carry the injured Marine to safety.
A new home
After 21 months of recovery and rehabilitation, Deslauriers is still active duty; he serves as an EOD program manager at Hurlburt Field's U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.
He said "it's mainly my willingness to give back to my country," that keeps him going despite the exhausting work.
However, life has its challenges. Deslauriers' family — including his wife, Lisa, and their 2-year-old son, Cameron — are living in an apartment that isn't user-friendly, family members said.
"When he returned home, he couldn't get his wheelchair through the front door without help," Lisa said. "Having a new home will alleviate those struggles."
Randy Wise Homes' Building Homes for Heroes program is working on a 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom ranch-style house for the Deslaurierses.
U.S. Gold staffers are aiding the effort. Their first Wounded Warrior competition and Kids Night Out is Saturday.
A portion of the competition's proceeds and all the following Kids Night Out's proceeds will go toward the new home.
"The Kids Night Out is where we are going to be able to make a lot of money for him, because our coaches are working for free," U.S. Gold manager Jennifer King said.
Children ages 5 and older should dress comfortably to play several activities during the event.
Deslauriers said he and his family appreciate the school's efforts.
"It's great that young people of our community care for people in need and that (they) are coming together for a cause," he said.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Wounded Warrior Competition, featuring 50 children from the Crestview and Destin U.S. Gold Gymnastics.
WHEN: 3 p.m.
WHERE: U.S. Gold Gymnastics and Cheerleading, 2118 3rd Ave., Crestview
WHAT: Kids Night Out
WHEN: 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: U.S. Gold Gymnastics and Cheerleading
COST: $20 per non-member, $15 per member
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.