Downtown home show visitors can aid vet
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Visitors to the Duquesne Light Home & Garden Show this weekend will be able to help build a house for a wounded Iraq war veteran.
James Fair, 25, of Coraopolis, was stringing barbed wire around an ammunition supply point in Fallujah in November 2003 when he stumbled onto a makeshift enemy bomb. He lost his sight and both hands. Shrapnel severely injured his right leg and caused a traumatic brain injury.
"I live with it every day," Fair said Tuesday.
Duquesne Light and Homes for Our Troops, a Massachusetts charity that raises money to build homes for veterans with disabilities, will collect donations at the home expo, which opens Friday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
"Since James no longer has hands, his challenges for overcoming blindness are significantly greater than (for) most who are blind," said John Gonsalves, president and founder of Homes for our Troops.
"This young man deserves a place that will allow him to continue on his path to a normal life," he said.
A home for Fair could include voice-activated appliances, controls he could operate with his feet, doors that open automatically and varying floor textures that would enable him to determine each room by feel.
Lonnie Mosco, Fair's mother, said the home would be built in Ross.
"That was his pick," she said. "We had to tell them where, and they'll build the house there."
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first profiled Fair's recovery in 2005.
Donors will be able to write a personal message to Fair and his family on a 40-foot donation wall. Children will be invited to make get-well cards for injured soldiers. The cards will be delivered to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., after the exhibition concludes March 18.
"We feel this is a very important project for Duquesne Light to bring to the public's attention," said company spokesman Richard Sieber.
Craig Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 380-5646.