Last week we shared two of the winners from the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society (AVHOFS) Copper Awardees. This week, we are featuring the two additional recipients. The 2022 Copper Eagle Award for private institutions or organizations which warrant recognition for services rendered to the Arizona veterans’ community goes to The Ability Center of Phoenix
Since arriving in Phoenix in February of 2006, the Ability Center has helped thousands of disabled veterans regain their independence by providing mobility solutions customized to suit their specific functions and needs. From hand controls and wheelchair lifts to specialized seating, high-tech installations lowered floor vehicle conversions and ramps, the Ability Center Team specializes in making the impossible possible for our nation’s disabled Veterans. The Ability Center was founded by Darrell Heath and just a few staff members in 1994 and has expanded to more than 120 employees in over 18 locations throughout the United States including three in Arizona (Phoenix, Goodyear, and Tucson).
The company has since been acquired by the leading manufacturer of mobility products around the world, BraunAbility, further expanding its reach in assisting veterans throughout the country. Working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs, physical therapists, occupational therapists, hospital case managers, disability driving instructors, and manufacturers, the Ability Center is a committed partner and advocate for veterans in need.
This year’s Copper Sword recipient for an individual who fights for a greater cause was presented to Debbie Lee. Lee received the toughest news that a parent could receive when she was notified that her son Marc Lee was killed in Ramadi, becoming the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq. Lee could have let that news destroy her, but instead, she chose to “put on his boots, pick up his weapon and stay in the fight for our troops, veterans and Gold Star families.
Debbie founded America’s Mighty Warriors in response to her son’s last letter home challenging us to change the world by doing more Random Acts of Kindness. She has personally thanked over 50,000 troops and veterans and has visited Iraq twice delivering care packages to the troops while becoming the first Gold Star Mom in history to visit the combat zone where her child was killed.
Through her foundation, Lee has provided hundreds of Veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and suicidal thoughts, the opportunity to receive life-saving healing therapies through their yearlong Helping Heroes Heal Program. They also provided thousands of Random Acts of Kindness as well as grants for larger crisis situations including funeral expenses, handicap accommodations, and families struggling with childhood cancer.
America’s Mighty Warriors hosts annual retreats for Gold Star families providing respite, hope, and support for those survivors. She worked with State Legislators to get legislation passed for the Gold Star Memorial at the Arizona State Capitol and the foundation provided funding for its construction. Lee continues to fight for legislation at all levels, being the voice for those who were willing to give everything for our freedom.
To learn more about this year’s AVHOFS Patriotic Luncheon and Copper Awardees go online https://avhof.org/patriotawardsluncheon/.