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Wheelers for the Wounded comes through for veterans

Parker nonprofit offers trips to enjoy the outdoors

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Veteran Morgan Huston served as a staff sergeant in the Air Force, and was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. The physical demands of his service caught up with him after he was discharged in 2006, and he found himself unable to enjoy some of the activities he previously had, and isolated from fellow veterans who had similar experiences both while on active duty and after returning to civilian life.

Parker resident and fellow veteran John Walters wanted to help veterans like Huston, so he started the nonprofit organization Wheelers for the Wounded of Colorado last year, which takes veterans out into the wilderness for a weekend of camping, camaraderie and extreme four-wheeling.

“We wanted to do something for veterans who maybe can’t get out and enjoy the wilderness because of disabilities or issues caused by their service,” said Walters. “So we decided to combine a love of the outdoors with the chance to help veterans.”

Walters served in the Navy, and comes from a military family background. He’s also passionate about off-roading in his tricked-out Jeep and camping. His organization arranges for an all-inclusive camping trip and four-wheeling experience for veterans, including transportation, entertainment, food, lodging and companionship.

“The camping is really just an excuse to get together with other veterans and talk about things that they might not be able to talk about with other people,” said Walters. “A lot happens around the campfire, and they open up a lot about combat experiences.”

Huston went camping with the group in September, and said it was not only fun, but therapeutic, and he hopes to make it an annual event.

“I got pretty beat up in the service, so I don’t get out a lot now to do physical things,” said Huston. “It was pretty impressive to see what they can do in the Jeeps. I haven’t had that much fun in a long time.”

Huston said he hopes to establish some lifelong friendships through the camping trips.

“I don’t really get a chance to hang out with other vets,” he said. “It’s nice to reconnect with some guys who have been out there.”

Wheelers for the Wounded of Colorado hosts several events throughout the year, and is always looking for volunteers, donations or participants. For more information visit www.wheelersforthewoundedofcolorado.com/.

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