KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A life-threatening illness has not stopped one Osceola County military veteran from helping other severely disabled vets make it in the civilian world.

What You Need To Know

  • Alan Alford started the nonprofit Fighting for Our Heroes

  • The nonprofit helps provide veterans with resources

  • His nonprofit partners with another that uses Arabian Nights horses

Alan Alford ended up paralyzed from the neck down after serving in the Navy in the 1990s. Receiving his disability was an uphill battle.

“I was two weeks away from being homeless when I won my claims,” he said.

Thankfully, Alford can now walk — and now, he wants to do that alongside other veterans.

He and his wife founded the nonprofit Fighting for Our Heroes to help vets and family members through challenges such as benefits, homelessness, and addiction.

“I don’t get to pick who calls my number, and I don’t get to pick what problem they have,” Alford said. “My job is to just help them.”

Alford works closely with another nonprofit, Michael’s Foundation, which runs a learning program that uses horses from the former dinner attraction Arabian Nights.

“Nobody deserves it more,” said Cathy Huddleston, co-founder and equine director for Michael’s Foundation. “Alan says, ‘I have your back,’ and he lives by that. How can you be more deserving of that? You show up and help people, say it, mean it, do it.”

Bryan Shakir is one veteran who has benefited from both programs.

“This gave me new life, new breath, new meaning,” Shakir said. “If you can take other charitable organizations like that, giving veterans a new start, a new chance, then I think the universe alone would serve a better purpose, a larger purpose.”

Alford says he just wants to help more veterans the way he wished someone could have been there for him when he needed it most.

“It’s the most rewarding. I can’t think of anything else I’d ever want to do,” Alford said. “This is all I ever wanted, was just to help other people get to the other side of that wall.”

Fighting For Our Heroes has gotten 300 homeless veterans out of the woods. If you’d like to learn more about their services or help in their efforts, visit