Champion students surprise disabled Special Forces vet with gift

Welding class students build deer blind for soldier

By Alec Schreck - MMJ/Reporter

BOERNE, Texas - Donald Burton was injured in Peru in 1995 as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces. 

Bob Hand, who was Burton's sergeant major at the time, said they were training the Peruvian Army when an accident left Burton critically injured. 

"I had to get him out of there," Hand said.

The injury left Burton a quadriplegic.

Although Burton moved on with his life, his injuries left him unable to enjoy his lifelong passion: hunting. 

"I began (hunting) when I was seven or eight. Well, if you consider a squirrel, gun hunting," Burton said.

About 20 years later, with the help of assistive technology, Burton picked up a rifle again.

"I wanted to squeeze the trigger myself," he said

Not only did Burton squeeze the trigger, he was on the mark.

"Heart shot, 150 yards. I thought, 'Yeah, this is for me,'" he said.

Burton, who founded the Texas Disabled Veterans Association, was ready to embrace his lifelong love of hunting once more. But he still needed some help. 

He asked a teacher at Boerne Champion High School if his class could outfit Burton's old trailer with a deer blind. The students decided to do much more than that.

About 80 welding class students, through the guidance of program instructor Dorman Vick, designed and built a custom deer blind trailer from the ground up. The trailer accommodates wheelchairs and has an inside height designed to facilitate hunting rifles for hunters who are wheelchair users.

"Makes me feel good to say, 'I've built something for a guy who's done so much for our country,'" Hudson Mehrmann, a welding student, said.

When Burton arrived at the welding shop classroom area, he thought he was there to pick up his old trailer. 

The welding students and their teacher unveiled their surprise, revealing the custom trailer inside of the high school's welding shop. A number of people in the crowd asked Burton what he thought.

"This is awesome. I'm going to use this soon," he said.

To learn more about the Texas Disabled Veterans Association, click here.

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