JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One deserving veteran received the ultimate Christmas gift last Saturday, although it was happily a little too big to fit under the tree. During the Jacksonville Jaguars' game against the Tennessee Titans, Dream Finders Homes awarded U.S. Army Sgt. AB Shirley and family with The Stadium Home, the two-story, fully furnished, showcase home that has welcomed Jaguars fans to EverBank Field for two full seasons. Shirley is a recipient of the Purple Heart.
"I don't even have words," said Shirley at the game on Saturday. "It's changed everything about what we're going to be doing and how we're going to proceed forward. It's amazing. Thank you guys very much. It's awesome."
As the Official Home Builder of the Jaguars, Dream Finders Homes built a first-of-its-kind hospitality, show home inside Gate 4 prior to the 2015 NFL season. At least 5,000 fans visit the luxury model home each game. As Dream Finders prepares to retire the home this offseason to make way for a new model, executives elected to donate the home, mortgage free, to a deserving veteran. The home and all its furnishings will be relocated to the Springfield neighborhood this spring and touched up to ensure it's like new when Shirley, his wife and son receive the keys.
"Being awarded the Stadium Home will give the Shirley's the opportunity they have dreamed of to start over and move closer to family in Jacksonville," said Jenn Stewart, Marketing Manager for Dream Finders Homes. "We are honored to be part of such a life changing opportunity for their family."
Shirley joined the Army in February of 2009. In October of 2011, while serving as an explosive ordinance disposal technician, he was injured in Afghanistan when a 500-pound IED exploded under his vehicle causing a hip dislocation, spine compression and traumatic brain injury leaving him with severe post concussive migraines and a disk herniation. Shirley's service and severe injuries were recognized with several awards, including the Purple Heart, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign star and the Army Commendation Medal, among others. Since recovering, Shirley has retired to Clarksville, Tenn., but has been looking for an opportunity to return to his original hometown of Jacksonville.
Dream Finders Homes partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation to select a deserving service man or women as the recipient of the home. Nearly 80 veterans applied in hopes of being the lucky recipient of a mortgage free home.