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March 5, 2014

Soldier, family to receive ‘smart home’

EDMOND — Edmond area residents have a chance to give back to one who has given so much.

When a roadside bomb injured now retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rusty Dunagan he became a triple amputee. He lost his legs and his left arm on Sept. 21, 2010, in Afghanistan. At the time the thought of receiving a “smart home” never crossed his mind.

After recuperating in Germany and Texas, Dunagan found it a challenge to maneuver around his family home in Edmond, which isn’t handicap-friendly.

Daily he is faced with doorways and halls that aren’t wide enough and counter tops that are too high. He gets from the outside to indoors by way of a ramp built in the garage.

Through the help of a national charity and two local charities working together, this Edmond family of seven is going to receive a new “smart home,” one which Dunagan can navigate his way around.  

The homes are donated to wounded veterans all across the United States. They feature wider hallways and doorways than a normal home, entrance ramp ways, retractable shelving, roll-in bathrooms and automated controls.

Actor Gary Sinise’s Foundation, Folds of Honor and Warriors for Freedom are providing a “smart home” to Dunagan.

Rusty and his wife, Angie, were working with an architect and contractors Tuesday planning their new home said a spokesperson for Warriors for Freedom.

Warriors for Freedom is a local nonprofit tax exempt organization that provides support to the nation’s heroes and their families and works with community leaders, businesses, schools, legislators and other nonprofit organizations to enhance veteran’s awareness and promote veteran’s initiatives through speaking engagements and fundraising.

They are raising awareness and funds to help Dunagan adjust to his new life by sponsoring the Inspiration to Action benefit dinner is at 5:30 p.m. March 11 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Tickets are $100 for the dinner only and $150 for the dinner and a chance to preview “Forest Gump” the night before with Rusty and Sinise, (a.k.a. “Lt. Dan”). Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis also will be at the screening of the movie at 7 p.m. March 10 at the Harkins Theatre in Bricktown. There are still tickets available for the preview. Sinise will be answering questions following the movie.

All proceeds go to the Gary Sinise Foundation to build SSG Dunagan’s family a home in Edmond.

In addition to the benefit dinner, Warriors for Freedom is sponsoring a raffle for a custom AK-47 manufactured by Two Rivers Arms Company. All proceeds benefit the building of the home for the Dunagan family.

The AK-47’s stock is embedded with a Warriors for Freedom Foundation Challenge Coin, signed by Sinise and also signed by the author of the book, “We Got Him!” by Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who was part of the team that captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

A bonus is when those purchasing one of the 500 tickets available at $25 per ticket also will receive an autographed copy of the book, “We Got Him!”

Folds of Honor also is pledging to give scholarships to Dunagan’s five children, whose ages range from 3 months old to 16 years old.

Call 286-9920 for tickets or email info@warriorsforfreedom.org and click “Get Tickets.” Payments cannot be taken online for the raffle due to Paypal’s rules.

TO FOLLOW Rusty and his family on their journey as they go through the process of building a new home go to facebook.com/rustydunaganfamilyjourney.

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