BOISE — On the day we honor our veterans, Mission43 alongside the Challenged Athletes Foundation broke ground on their Idaho Outdoor Fieldhouse with Gov. Brad Little, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, and several others in attendance.
"This is an extremely emotional day for adaptive athletes and military veterans throughout the state of Idaho because this is a game-changer," Dan Nelson, a Veteran and Program Coordinator, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation said.
The Fieldhouse will serve over 100,000 veterans and an estimated 200,000 individuals living with disabilities in Idaho.
"I woke up this morning and it felt like Christmas because it is finally here and we finally get to share our excitement," Jennifer Skeesick, CAF-Idaho Regional Director said.
Construction is officially underway on the nearly 50,000 sq. ft building. A future place of healing and accessibility to sports for both veterans and adaptive athletes.
"Adaptive athletes and military veterans both who have gone through transitions, both have had tough experiences and continue to have tough experiences and so working together, being a part of each other's endeavors is remarkably inspiring and empowering," Nelson said.
The design is drawn, and plans of hosting sports clinics and employment opportunities are still being brainstormed, but on Veterans Day those ideas are on their way to becoming a reality for the entire community.
"I walked out here for the first time this morning and realized that is where the corners of the building are going to be I mean it is just so tangible at this point," Skeesick said.
The Fieldhouse will be accessible for any disability, breaking down the biggest barrier between adaptive athletes and sports.
"We have features for visually impaired athletes to know exactly where they are in the building at any time. We don’t have a single door that people are going to have to maneuver their wheelchair to get through," Skeesick said. "Really we are bringing the outside in and there is healing in that for everyone."
Nelson added that facilities and opportunities like this are hard to come by for veterans and adaptive athletes and he is excited to see Idaho taking the lead on helping these two groups that are often left behind.
"There's nothing like it. Lives are going to be transformed, and lives are going to be saved," he said. "I am a perfect example of some of the programming that has shifted the direction of my entire life and putting it on a course for something positive and at the time it wasn’t there."
This whole facility is all possible thanks to funding from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.
"The Foundation has done more than just change the lives of the adaptive athlete, military, and veteran community of Idaho. They’ve quite certainly saved lives, including my own," Nelson said.
The plan is to open the facility in the summer of 2023. It will feature an aquatic center, bouldering walls, a fitness center, a gymnasium, and meeting spaces just to name a few.
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