RUSKIN, Fla. — Kelly Kowall finally has the happy ending she's sought for two years.
Kowall started a nonprofit to help service members, their families and first responders after her son, U.S. Army Spc. Corey Kowall, 20, was killed in Afghanistan in 2015.
My Warrior's Place is a retreat for veterans to unwind, relax and get away from the stress that often comes with returning home.
Some come to the waterfront property suffering from PTSD. Others in wheelchairs.
“There's just something magical out on the water,” Kowall said. “Being out on the water is just such a magical experience. You have to feel it…feeling that wind…smelling the salt water.”
Bad contractor results in tribute
Kelly hired a contractor to make the charity's boat wheelchair accessible, but didn't finish the job and rendered the boat unusable.
Several months ago, Kelly received a call from Avalon Pontoons.
“He was very quick to say we can help you,” recalls Kowall.
The company offered to build a custom wheelchair accessible boat for free.
“It was a good day and the company is really doing well and I thought it was just really a time to give back and pay tribute to those who serve us,” said company CEO Jim Wolf.
A volunteer from one of the company's dealerships, Apollo Marine, transported the boat from Michigan.
"I just wanted to be part of it,” said Jim Rau, who transported the boat. “One gentlemen was talking to me and said 'you don't understand… that boat is going to save lives…that boat is going to save lives.'”
The decision to make the donation was easy, Wolf said.
“I can't imagine what some of these veterans have gone through, emotionally, physically, just a lot of trauma in their lives and being out on the water you tend to forget about all that stuff,” he said.
For Kowall, finding words of gratitude wasn't an easy task.
“I don't think I'll ever be able to convey how much this really means because it's so special," she said.
Want to name the new boat? My Warrior's Place is accepting name suggestions.
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