A group of UCF alumni learned firsthand that 33-feet of concrete can make a life-changing difference for someone in a wheelchair when they helped build a ramp for a local military veteran.

The UCF Alumni Community Volunteers Chapter took part in the Center for Independent Living’s seventh annual RAMPAGE event on Feb. 16. Their mission was to build ramps for 13 people who struggle to navigate the steps at their front doors but can’t afford to modify their homes.

One of this year’s “rampees” is Dale Parker, who served in the U.S. Army until a leg injury led to an honorable discharge. He then had a 15-year career in roofing until chronic health problems required him to start using a wheelchair.

“We’re a very hands-on chapter, and this year we’re focusing our efforts on projects that benefit veterans and children,” said Matt Cecil, the volunteer chapter’s chair and an ’07 alum. “When we heard Dale’s story, it was a no-brainer for us to participate.”

About 20 UCF alumni volunteers rolled up their sleeves at Dale’s home, mixing, carrying and pouring concrete under the supervision of licensed contractors. By day’s end, the ramp’s wooden posts were firmly set in the ground, preparing the site for the final phase of construction on Feb. 23.

“The most rewarding part of volunteering is interacting with the people who are benefiting,” Cecil said. “I had a chance to talk to Dale’s wife, Carole. She was in tears and very thankful for our help. This ramp is going to make a huge difference in the things she and Dale can do together now that he can get out of the house without a struggle.”

The RAMPAGE one-day wheelchair-building event draws hundreds of volunteers from Central Florida and will continue through March 9.

“Before someone gets a ramp, they often have to drag their wheelchairs behind them down the steps, or rely on a loved one to carry them,” said Allison Gould, the Center for Independent Living’s volunteer coordinator and a ’01 UCF alumna. “A ramp is a life-changing gift of independence, mobility and freedom. We’re so grateful for all of our volunteers who take their time to support RAMPAGE.”