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It’s been almost three years since Rick Fabiani first told the Williston Rotary Club about a dream to build a Fisher House in Gainesville.
Tuesday, he returned to the club and said that dream will become reality when a groundbreaking ceremony is held Sept. 25.
A Fisher House, paid for by private funds but located on Veterans Administration property, provides free accommodations, giving veterans and their families a home away from home during treatment or rehab.
The 16,000 square foot home with 20 suites can be a lifesaver and a tremendous means of support, said Catlin Mixon of Williston.
And he should know.
On Sept. 4, 2007, Mixon was critically wounded in Baghdad. Tuesday, the double amputee recounted that day and remembers only waking up five days later in San Antonio, Texas.
His family had been notified he was injured but not the extent of those injuries. They immediately went to Texas to be near their son and didn’t give thought to overnight lodging.
They didn’t need to. The Fisher House there saw to their needs while he was recuperating and later through his rehabilitation.
“It provided a social community, too,” Mixon told Rotarians. “Three of my brothers died that day and another was burned on 87 percent of his body and lost all four limbs.”
That brother succumbed to his wounds, Mixon said, leaving a 19-year-old wife. But because the families had become so entwined while staying at the Fisher House, they were there for each other.
Since his recovery, Mixon has been a constant voice for Fisher House, particularly the one that will be built in Gainesville. Whenever he has additional surgeries, he knows he and his family will have a place to stay without worrying about money.
“That way you can focus on getting well,” Mixon said.
With funding in place for the actual structure, supporters are now raising funds for therapeutic gardens on the premises. The total costs for the gardens will be around $500,000, and will include walkways, fountains, benches and even a wheelchair garden where veterans can work from their chairs.
Individuals or civic groups can take on projects to make the gardens a reality, with pavers honoring loved ones starting at $250 or fountains at $25,000. There are needs that fit into almost everyone’s budget.
For more information, visit http://www.gainesvillefisherhouse.org/ or e-mail GFisherHouse@gmail.com or email@example.com.