‘i’ve got your back’: Dinner benefits wounded vets

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By Tess Malijenovsky
Marine Lance Corporal Nicholas Thom, a young American man, went to Afghanistan to fight for his country and returned to his newlywed wife without his legs and three fingers after an IED exploded at his feet on April 4, 2010.
To date, 48,253 American soldiers have returned to their families severely wounded from the Iraqi and Afghani wars, according to the Department of Defense.

A “suspicious item” was identified near Nick’s position on his four-day counter-insurgency mission in the Musa Qala District of Afghanistan. When Nick approached to investigate, the can with wires detonated and an enemy ambush ensued. Under a line of fire, doctors rushed to save Nick’s life, closing his wounds and preparing him for the MEDEVAC, which was delayed due to the danger.
When Nick returned home, he began his rehabilitation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Virginia where he befriended Chris Bowers, who also lost one leg.
Chris compelled the Independence Fund that his buddy Nick should be the recipient of the $23,000 Paragolfer (Stand Up and Play device) that will be presented at the Plums Beer Dinner. The money was raised from Healing Hero Golf Week earlier in April, during which hundreds of local golfers and wounded veterans played together over five days.
The Paragolfer will not only grant Chris the independence to stand up and play golf competitively, but some of the physical therapeutic benefits include stimulating the metabolism, stretching muscles, reducing spasticities and improving joint mobility.
“It’s a fairly expensive piece of equipment but it’s worth the price for the independence and the additional freedom that it will give Nick to enhance the quality of his life,” said Dick Clarke of the Independence Fund.
Essentially, the Independence Fund is a South Carolina nonprofit organization that provides the therapeutic and recreational opportunities for injured military members so that they can lead independent, productive and satisfying lives. Since it was founded in 2007, the Independence Fund has been able to donate $1.75 million dollars to provide various equipment and therapies for the severely wounded veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.
And for the last two years, the Plums benefit dinner has raised $1,000. This year, charitable guests will enjoy four courses paired with four delicious R.J. Rockers beers. Following the patriotic meal, Nick and Chris will share their story titled “I’ve got your back.”
“It will be humorous. It will be light. But it will describe the bonding that these two veterans did to support each other, encourage each other, and come through those experiences far better than they would have on their own,” commented Clarke.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, the Plums Beer Dinner will give the American people an opportunity to stand for these healing heroes at $65 per person. Folks can make their reservations by calling 843-986-5092 or emailing plums@hargray.com.