CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - Two years ago, Army SPC Justin Perez-Gorda was thrown from his vehicle in Afghanistan after a bomb went off leaving him disabled and in a wheelchair.
But Gorda is about to receive a very special surprise from a group in Crockett. On Saturday, June 22 the American Legion Riders Post 134 in Crockett will host their First Annual Bike Show and Poker Run to help Gorda get a new home.
The organization has teamed up with Homes for Our Troops, which builds homes and rebuilds lives, and will use all the proceeds raised at the event to help finish a home in Dripping Springs, Texas that is accessible to Gorda's needs.
"It's amazing. That he pulled through it. His attitude is, he's got a real strong sense of himself. He's not a quitter. He's moving on. He wants to continue on in any way he can," Thomas Combs, the president of the American Legion who served 15 years in the U.S. Army, said.
The motorcyclists and veterans didn't even know Gorda before the project, but are happy to help.
"I feel pretty strong about helping all the veterans that are more, are a little unfortunate to what I am. Some of them have come back in pretty bad shape and they aren't able to function as well as I am. I'm still able to get up and move around and ride the motorcycle when I want and go places when I want and not have to worry about being taken care of," Edward Hoskins, the vice-president of American Legion who served as a boiler technician in the U.S. Navy, said.
Gorda and his team were returning from a mission when they came under fire near a school, Combs said. Gorda didn't realize that a pressure plated IED (improvised explosive device) was hidden in the road. Gorda suffered several back fractures, a broken leg and pelvis fracture from the explosion. He was also left as a paraplegic, which is someone who suffers from impairment in motor or sensory functions of the lower extremities that left him in a wheelchair, Combs said.
"It feels me with pride to be able to give back for all these things that have been given to me. My memories, my time in the service, my fellowship with my brothers and sisters in arms, it's truly a blessing," Combs said.
The event will have barbeque plates for purchase, a silent auction, bike show and poker run. The poker run is $20 per rider, and $10 per passenger. There will be money prizes for poker run winners. The bike show registration starts at noon and the entry fee is $10.
There are even full hook up camp sites available for out-of-towners. Combs says you don't have to be a biker or a veteran to attend. The event is for anyone who wants to support Gorda and his new family home.
"The floor plans and stuff that they shown is just amazing and how everything is going to work for him being in a wheelchair that he'll be able to function as if he wasn't in a wheelchair. Everything will be able to be brought down to his level," Combs said.
"It's sad. It's sad to see anybody come home in that shape. But we're just happy to give a little back to somebody who has given so much," Don Rush, the road captain for American Legion and a Vietnam Air Veteran, said.
The group says they will host an event each year for a veteran, and are hoping it grows larger.
"The pride we feel is just overwhelming and to see the community come and participate and to help out a fellow American in need is just wonderful," Robin Rush, an American Legion member, said.
Despite not being from Crockett, members say they think of Gorda as family.
"It doesn't matter where you're from if you're a veteran. We're all brothers and sisters," Don Rush said.
The American Legion Post 134 is located at 1000 Brazos inside the Davy Crockett Park in Crockett, Texas.