OBERLIN, OH -- The Natural Stone Institute recently provided natural stone and fabrication services for a home with the Gary Sinise Foundation through its R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program. The Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program builds 100% mortgage-free specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans and first responders.

Natural stone and fabrication for U.S. Army First Sergeant John Borders were provided by Cosentino and Distinctive Surfaces of Florida.

On January 5, 2006, after a year-long tour of duty in Iraq, just six days before he was scheduled to return home, then-retired U.S. Army First Sergeant John Borders was participating in a routine convoy when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), critically injuring him. He was scheduled for surgeries every other day for several months, receiving over 55 surgeries total. The extent of his injuries required him to go through limb salvage with his left leg and have his right leg amputated below the knee.

With the help of family and friends, and his own self-imposed drive to return to active duty, staff sergeant Borders stayed positive, working through sessions with his physical therapist until he regained more use of his limbs and learned to walk with a prosthetic limb. Then, he learned to run. Every time he achieved a goal, he set himself two more. After more than three years, staff sergeant Borders completed his Medical Evaluation Board and returned to active duty as a counterintelligence special agent. Borders served over 27 years in the army, 12 of which he served as a handicapable individual. He deployed five times, completing his last tour in Afghanistan with his new leg. In January 2018, he retired as a first sergeant, a title he aimed to achieve his whole career.

Today, Borders lives in Florida with his wife, Mollie (also an Army veteran), and their two children, Brittany and Xander. Post-retirement, Borders has found a new way to serve others, redefining himself as a scuba instructor. He wants to help individuals with limited mobility learn to dive and find freedom from their pain and restriction in the deep water. 

Companies interested in getting involved with future projects are encouraged to email rise@naturalstoneinstitute.org. To learn more, and to see a list of all Natural Stone Institute members who have donated their time, products, and services to this cause, visit www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/RISE.