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U of Miami Coach Richt Visits Wounded Veteran Nelson

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In a gesture of kindness on his way to be the keynote speaker at the All Sports Association dinner at the Emerald Coast Conference Center, University of Miami head coach Mark Richt paid a visit to wounded veteran Capt. Nathan Nelson. Nelson is a Building Homes for Heroes recipient of a new home being built by Randy Wise Homes in Santa Rosa Beach.


The Purple Heart decorated retired Air Force Intelligence Officer was severely injured four years ago while serving his third combat deployment to Afghanistan. Taliban forces fired a rocket that impacted just feet from Nelson. The blast broke some of his vertebrae and resulted in paralysis at the C‑7 level. Nelson is wheelchair bound.


Today, after significant rehabilitation, Nelson is physically active, healthy and on the go in the community. In fact, he was recently appointed by Congressman Matt Gaetz to serve as the Deputy Director for Military Affairs for the 1st Congressional District of Florida that encompasses Walton County west to Escambia County.


“It was an honor to spend some time with Coach Richt,” said Nelson. “He has such a positive spirit, and his generosity in the communities he has been involved with are impressive. Just like Coach Richt expressed, resiliency and faith is key to success. My life now is part of that plan, and it is my intent to share my story and faith with others.”


According to Randy Wise, owner of Randy Wise Homes: “This is the third Building Homes for Heroes home we have built. We donate our time and are the builder of record to lead the charge in completing Nathan’s home in Driftwood Estates in Walton County. The home has just been permitted, and we’re about to begin construction with an estimated completion of next fall with a move‑in ready home for Nathan, his wife and three‑year‑old daughter.”


“Though there is some subsidy towards the cost of the home at the national level of Building Homes for Heroes, and we have raised some monies locally, we are seeking an additional $100,000 towards the costs of the home,” said Larry Fowler, BHH Development Coordinator for the Florida Panhandle. “We are actively soliciting cash contributions, as well as in‑kind donations of labor and materials for this worthy cause.”


Since 2006, Building Homes for Heroes has been at the forefront of making a significant difference in the lives of wounded American service members and their families. The organization gifts mortgage‑free homes that meet the needs of the men and women who have selflessly served our country. These homes not only help to remove the families’ financial burden, they help to restore individual freedom, and enable veterans to lead more independent and productive civilian lives.


For further information, to make a donation, or to volunteer, call Larry Fowler at 850‑502‑8908, or email

‑ Kay Phelan
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