After seeing the viral hit “A Love Story in 22 Pictures” on Buzzfeed.com, America fell in love with Taylor Morris, a former Navy explosive ordinance disposal technician.
Now there’s another happy ending on the horizon. After a life of scuba diving, sky diving, motorcycle riding and gun fights, Morris is looking for another adventure: settling down in a home with his girlfriend,Danielle Kelly. And, with a donation from the Veterans United Foundation, he soon will be able to get the home of their dreams.
Morris deployed on his first tour to Afghanistan in 2012. Five months into his deployment, while clearing a path for his team to safely investigate a building, tragedy struck. “I ended up stepping on an (improvised explosive device) that was under the ground,” explained 25-year-old Morris. The accident cost him all four limbs. After the explosion, his life became more difficult, but his passion for living wasn’t damaged. With a tight-knit support system of friends and loved ones by his side, he worked his way back. Five months later, he was walking again – and was healthy enough to go on more adventures.
Ride of His Life
As an avid motorsports fan, Morris and his friends created a YouTube video and a Twitter campaign trying to get a ride-along with Pro Rally Car Driver Ken Block. Block was honored by the request, and invited Morris to a bison ranch in Potosi, Mo. to test ride. “It’s a huge honor for me to work with different vets that come out, especially like someone like (Morris) that’s been through so much and sacrificed so much for us,” said Block. The experience was great for Morris. “It was pretty awesome,” he said. “It’s hard to describe – we were in the air, he’d turn the wheel all the way and we’d land and immediately be going a different direction.”
Despite his injuries, Morris is still living life to the fullest, and is carving out his own direction on the road of life. Now, Morris and Kelly are starting on the road to homeownership in the couple’s hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa. “It's one of the best things every time we get home,” he said. “Sometimes, you just like to sit out in the yard and enjoy the view and take it all in. I kind of took it for granted growing up here, but when youcome back to it you're like, ‘Wow, this is pretty special.’” Still, it’s not easy for Morris to get around. Using wheelchairs and artificial limbs in traditional homes isn’t the easiest experience. With that in mind, Veterans United Foundation, The Lt. Dan Band, The Gary Sinise Foundation and Tunnel to Towers teamed up to raise $200,000 to build a smart home for Morris, providing the former Navy officer with an opportunity to be more independent. The smart home features automatic lighting, easy-open doors, roll-in bathrooms and other ammenities that make quadriplegic living easier. The ability to get around and use our homes is something many of us take for granted, but it’s crucial for Morris’ well-being in the future. “Every little piece of independence that I can get back with the help of a home that's adapted is going to be that much more that Danielle won't have to worry about, the family won't have to worry about,” said Morris. “It will just be nice to have a place that Taylor can do anything and everything and be fully independent for both him and myself,” Kelly said.
Jumping the Hurdles
With the help from Veterans United Foundation, his dream of homeownership and independence is coming true, and the hurdles in front of him are nothing compared to the one’s he’s already cleared. “We're just super appreciative that (Veterans United Foundation) were so generous,” said Morris. It can be easy to take for granted those who fought for our freedoms. That’s why we need to give back to those who gave us so much. “We can never do enough for our veterans,” said Gary Sinise, founder of the The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Lt. Dan Band.