Several levels of concrete collapsed on U.S. Army Sgt. Justin Minyard while he was responding to the destruction at the Pentagon during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Ten years later, Minyard continues to fight back.
After the Pentagon incident, Minyard continued to serve his country in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he suffered spinal trauma. He is among more than 60,000 military service members who have returned home from the war on terror with severe injuries. But with the help of the Independence Fund, these wounded warriors are finding the tools -- robotic wheelchairs and special therapies and guidance -- to continue pursuing independent, productive and satisfying lives.
The fund was founded by Steve Danyluk, a former U.S. Marine who saw severely injured and disabled vets not getting what he thought they needed. Danyluk formed the nonprofit foundation to help those veterans get the assistance they need. Since 2007, the fund has raised more than $1.25 million. Danyluk is now coordinating Lt. Dan Weekend 2, which brings injured veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to Beaufort from Thursday to Sunday for a chance to let loose during the four-day weekend and attend a benefit concert with actor Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band.
This year's event coincides with the 300th anniversary of the City of Beaufort.
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Minyard attened the inaugural Lt. Dan Weekend during the Beaufort Shrimp Festival in October. Unable to walk, Minyard floated around on his Segway personal transport during last year's event, which hosted about 50 vets and their families. He said events like the Lt. Dan Weekend 2 help many veterans with their recoveries -- both mentally and physically.
This year, the Independence Fund has raised $300,000 and expects more than 200 veterans, their caregivers and families to attend.