Wounded Veteran Surprised with New Mortgage-free Home in Dallas

Operation FINALLY HOME, Former NFL Players Association, Dallas Home Builders Association, SouthStar Communities and Victory Custom Homes make home possible


(SEPTEMBER 10, 2013—Grand Prairie, TX and Cedar Hill, TX) An American hero who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan will get a fresh start thanks to several local organizations teaming up to build him a new mortgage-free custom home. Operation FINALLY HOME, the Former NFL Players Association, the Dallas Builders Association, SouthStar Communities and Victory Custom Homes surprised Marine Sergeant Ken Kalish with the home today, which is located in the Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie, Texas community of The Sanctuary at Lake Ridge.

“We’re building a new home for this American hero but what we are really doing is helping rebuild his life,” said Dan Vargas, Executive Director, Operation FINALLY HOME.

Sergeant Kalish and his dog Fynn were trained to detect IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or “road-side” bombs. He only had 30 days left on his tour of duty when he stepped on an IED and was severely injured.

“The entire community at The Sanctuary at Lake Ridge is embracing Ken,” said Thad Robertson, Senior Vice President of SouthStar Communities, who provided the one-acre home site. “We want to welcome him home. We are blessed to have him serve our country and be a part of our community.”

The veteran received a hero’s welcome with the Grand Prairie Police Department Honor Guard on hand and fourth grade students from Lake Ridge Elementary reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, guests wrote “notes of love” on a wall that will become part of the home.

Operation FINALLY HOME builds homes for veterans who are 90-100% disabled but want to get their life back on track. The non-profit has built more than 40 homes for veterans in Texas to date and relies on the donations of developers, homebuilders, contractors, corporate sponsors and individual contributors to continue building homes for those who have given so much for our country.

Ken said he thought today was a final interview with the organization to determine if he would be a candidate for a mortgage-free home.

“When I came over the hill and saw the crowd, I was blown away,” he said. “This allows me a chance to get my life back on track without wondering about how I’m going to take care of a mortgage.”

The Dallas Builders Association has adopted Operation FINALLY HOME as its charity of choice and is encouraging all 900 members in DFW to participate. In addition, Victory Custom Homes, co-founded by former Dallas Cowboys player Bill Bates and Alan Dulworth is building the home. The Former NFL Players Association is also teaming up on the project.

“We’re honored to build this house,” said Bates. “We’re going to be spending a lot of time together,” he said to Kalish.

The home broke ground in July and should be completed later this year.

B-roll, interviews and photos from the event can be downloaded here:

The Lake Ridge Patriot Cup will take place at 8:30 am on Wednesday, September 11 at Tangle Ridge Golf Club. All proceeds benefit Sergeant Kalish’s home. Dozens of NFL legends will be participating as well as Kalish. More information is at


About Operation FINALLY HOME:

Operation FINALLY HOME was founded in 2005 as a non-partisan/non-profit organization with the mission to provide Americans the ability to honor and thank America’s wounded and disabled veterans and the widows of the fallen who have sacrificed to defend our country in the global War on Terror. Operation FINALLY HOME addresses the most pressing need of our returning heroes -- a home to call their own. The organization’s reach has expanded well beyond Texas, and includes projects in New York, Kansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In 2010, founder Dan Wallrath was named one of the year’s CNN Top 10 Heroes in honor of the program’s efforts. More information can be found at


About SouthStar Communities:

SouthStar Communities is a residential real estate development company with master-planned properties throughout the Sunbelt. The company is affiliated with SouthStar Development Partners, and led by president and CEO J. Larry Rutherford, who has worked in all areas of real estate and homebuilding for nearly four decades. Since 1999, SouthStar has developed 20 communities throughout Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The company specializes in every stage of real estate acquisition, permitting and development, from government relations to design and project management.


Media Contact:

Carey Marin

(214) 914-1157