PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — A neighborhood on Riverfront Drive in Punta Gorda is lined with beautiful houses, including the home of United States veteran Ezequiel Rodriguez Guadulee.
As beautiful as the home is, the veteran is faced with challenges every day because he's paralyzed and his home isn't handicap accessible. That's all about to change because the organization, Tunnel to Towers, is building him a new home to meet his standards.
His life and career path changed after 9/11. He was at his parents home in Puerto Rico when he saw the Twin Towers destroyed. Through tragedy , it inspired him to make a life changing-decision.
"I said 'I'm going to enlist and serve my this country, my country needs me'," Guadaluee said.
That was when Guadaluee stopped his dreams of becoming a commercial pilot and became a solider in the United States Army. During his training, Guadaluee had a parachute malfunction and when he was making a jump, he landed without assistance.
"It wasn't until three years later when I became completely paraplegic," Guadaluee said. "It was a spinal cord injury in progression."
With his wife for 20 years still standing by his side, Guadaluee tells Fox 4's Briana Brownlee his wheelchair isn't stopping him. However, some of the day-to-day activities many may take for granted can be a struggle for him, specifically with how his home is constructed.
He showed Fox 4 the struggle of having to cook at a stove that's too high, cabinets he can't reach and the limited space he has when trying to move around his home.
He says all of these issues will be fixed once he moves into his new home that will sit on five acres of land in Charlotte County.
"In my heart I was doing back flips. If I could, I would have been rolling on the floor," laughed Guadaluee.
Tunnel to Towers did try to upgrade Guadaluee's home.
"It was so many issues they were having, especially living in HOA. They said 'This isn't practical, we are just going to build you a new home'," said Bob Nichols, member of the Charlotte County defenders.
Guadaluee said the Tunnel of Towers has been life changing, and he can't thank them enough. Not only is he getting a new home, but the organization also helped him get back in the air.
"About a month and a half ago I went skydiving. I had to face a few demons there because I haven't jumped in years," Guadaluee said.
He faced those demons and went soaring in the sky again.
Nichols brought this story to Fox 4 to let the community know about charitable organizations that help veterans and first responders across Southwest Florida.
Saturday, the organization is going to do an "Over the Bridge" ride and the starting point is at Bert's Harley-Davidson in Port Charlotte.
"We're going to leave at 10:00 a.m., go up 75 and we're going to go up Skyway Bridge and go into St. Pete and then end up at the barracuda store," Nichols said.
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m., and the first 200 people who register will get gift bags from Harley-Davidson, a Tunnel to Towers hat and a full breakfast from the Twisted Fork restaurant. It's $25 for a single rider and $35 with a passenger.
Non-riders are also welcomed and all money goes to helping veterans like Guadaluee.