Lance Corporal Ceontre Shelton of the United States Marine Corps received the surprise of a lifetime last season.
During the second quarter of the Texans vs. Patriots matchup in early December, Shelton and his fiancé Kendall were told they would be receiving a custom-built, mortgage-free home in Houston, courtesy of Operation Finally Home. Shelton and Kendall were overcome with astonishment and gratitude as they embraced to the backdrop of a roaring crowd.
On Monday, the couple had another reason to celebrate as Operation Finally Home and the PulteGroup broke ground on the lot that will be their future residence.
"This says a lot about them," Shelton said of the organizations working to build him his dream house. "I would like to hug and shake every person's hand if I could."
While serving in Afghanistan in 2011, Shelton's platoon was attacked and he was struck by an improvised explosive device. He suffered a left platella fracture, nerve damage, shrapnel scars, a traumatic brain injury and ultimately a below-knee amputation of his right leg. Shelton became a Purple Heart Recipient for his brave service and unwavering passion for his country.
Daniel Vargas, VP of Community Outreach for Operation Finally Home, touched on some of the difficulties returning veterans are facing.
"The issues we're having with the veterans that are coming back is, especially with the economy, they can't go get a mortgage without that job history," Vargas explained. "When a young man like this who's living with a disability and trying to go to school full time, he doesn't have that job history. The American dream is out of their reach right now.
"We picked the right family. That's what it's all about; looking for the families that are trying to help themselves. That's what we are doing; helping them help themselves."
Shelton expressed his gratitude countless times during the groundbreaking ceremony.
"When I first got back, there was some depression, and it was hard," he said. "But now I smile a lot. Ever since the Texans game, I can't stop smiling. Thank you."
No, thank you, sir.