MANSFIELD -- The NFL Draft is only three days long, but its legacy lasts far longer thanks to its involvement with charitable causes in its host communities.
Saturday morning, the Dallas Cowboys brought a $50,000 donation from the NFL to Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds and donates accessible homes customized for the needs of severely injured post-9/11 veterans. The presentation was part of a ground-breaking ceremony for Homes For Our Troops' latest recipient, Marine Staff Sergeant and Mansfield native Omar Milan, who was injured in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2012.
"I looked down, and my leg's gone, and the other one's bandaged up," recalls Milan, who also suffered a broken pelvis, lost two fingers on his left hand, and had his right elbow blown out. The elbow was repaired using muscle tissue and skin from his back, one of about 40 surgeries he endured on his road to recovery--which is still going.
"It's an ongoing therapy. I encounter obstacles every day, whether it be stairs or just different terrain."
The new home will be completely wheelchair accessible, including wide doorways, smooth flooring, and a shower he can wheel into.
"I can get to the laundry, wash dishes and stuff. It probably doesn't sound like a good thing but it is," Milan said with a laugh. "It allows me to feel a part of the family again."
The garage will also feature space for woodworking, which Milan took up as a hobby and has become a form of therapy for him which he's hoping to turn into a business.
Milan also took a moment to pay it forward, passing an offer for a recycled vehicle to another injured veteran who was more in need of it.
The Cowboys' contingent featured Super Bowl champions Drew Pearson and Larry Brown, members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders including two who come from military families, and the team's mascot, Rowdy.