Wounded Warrior Abilities Ranch nears completion

The Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch at Lurie Park is raising money for its third and final phase of construction. The WWAR provides equipment and programming for wounded veterans of all abilities including fishing, ADA-accessible fitness stations, yoga, and wheelchair-adaptable sports such as rugby, baseball and basketball. The organization hopes to raise $500,000 to build its new headquarters and a memorial garden at the park.

PINELLAS PARK — After years of planning, the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch at Lurie Park, 5500 62nd Ave. N., is poised to enter its final phase of construction next year.

The WWAR is designed to help rehabilitate veterans wounded during military service.

Since construction on WWAR began in 2017, the park boasts a variety of activities for veterans of all abilities. This includes ADA-accessible fitness stations, a fully stocked fishing pond, a multi-sports court specifically designed for wheelchair sports and events, two pavilions, cycling and walking trails, a playground, and two dog parks.

The next step is the construction of the WWAR headquarters and a memorial garden honoring fallen soldiers from Pinellas County.

This means one final fundraising push, said Mike Delancey Sr., the nonprofit organization’s chief operating officer.

To date, the organization has raised more than $1.7 million through grants and donations for the first two phases of the project. To complete this final phase, another $500,000 is needed, he said.

“We couldn’t have done this without the help of different organizations and the city of Pinellas Park,” Delancey said. “We’re still looking for donations and for different groups that might want to partner with us.”

He’s amazed by the progress at the park over the past two years and “can’t wait to see it finished.”

He added, “If you went to the park today, you’d think, ‘Oh my god, is this the same place?’ It is just absolutely beautiful.”

The WWAR was founded in 2015 by Delancey and his son, Mike Delancey Jr., who served in the Marines. Mike Jr., a Pinellas Park High School graduate, was paralyzed in 2006 after being shot by a sniper while serving in Iraq.

Following his recovery, he and his father have focused their attention on veterans’ issues and supporting wounded veterans. Building the WWAR is just one more way for them to give back, Mike Sr. said.

“We’re so grateful that we can give back like this. This is where we’ve lived our whole lives,” he said. “When (the injury) happened, it hit home to a lot of people here. They supported us and we want to give back to them.”

In a previous interview with Tampa Bay Newspapers, Mike Jr. said the WWAR and activities it offers are imperative to veterans’ recovery following a critical injury.

“I know this myself,” he said.

Since his injury, he’s participated in a number of activities and sports adapted to those using wheelchairs.

“They need to know that if they remain active, they’ll have an overall better quality of life,” he said.

The WWAR offers numerous wheelchair sports leagues, including softball, basketball and rugby, as well as yoga, fishing and cycling.

The organization will host the Mike Alstott Family Foundation’s upcoming Veterans Football Game on Sunday, Nov. 10, 8 to 11 a.m. Those interested in participating must sign up in advance at wwar15.org.

For more information about WWAR, visit woundedwarriorsabilitiesranch.org.