Injured Kansas Veteran Gets New Home Thanks To Volunteers
Mother Nature's cloudy skies and light rainfall couldn't dampen the spirits of dozens of volunteers hard at work in Marion on Friday morning. Many from the community and surrounding areas - including Marion High School - came together to help the national non-profit organization "Homes For Our Troops" build a new house for one of their own.
[We've posted more information on "Homes For Our Troops" under Related Links directly below this article.]
Army Sgt. Ryan Newell and his wife, Carrie, have four children. Newell was severely injured in a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan in Jan. 2008. After losing both his legs, Newell spends his days in a wheelchair or learning to walk with the use of prosthetic limbs. The injury has left many parts of his small, rented two-story Marion home off limits, including his children's' bedrooms.
During his time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, "Homes For Our Troops" learned of Newell's circumstances. He was selected for a new home in November of last year. The project is the organization's first in Kansas.
Practically all material and time are donated by area companies and builders.
"I've had a lot of people on my side," Newell told KAKE News Friday morning. "There's just been so much support."
The support was apparent as volunteers began a three-day "build brigade" on Friday. By Sunday evening, all walls, the roof, siding and windows will be in place on Newell's new home. Developers hope to have the home ready for move-in by mid-Summer.
"Many in the community simply see it as a new house," said Larry Gill, Homes For Our Troops veterans' liaison. "It's more than that. This will restore Ryan's independence."
"Once this is done, I'll be able to get into the complete house," Newell said. "I'll be able to stay home alone in a wheelchair."
The house will be ADA compliant, with wheelchair access to every room, and a specially designed kitchen. Given Kansas' reputation for tornadoes, designers included a safe-room in the house large enough for the whole family.
Carrie Newell said words can't express her emotions and gratitude.
"There's no way I could ever say 'Thank you' enough," she said. "I want to be able to give back as everybody gave to us. That's important to me."
"It's just overwhelming," Ryan Newell added. "It's overwhelming what everybody has done."
Organizers say they welcome any and all volunteers. Although skilled contractors do most of the work on the house, volunteers are needed elsewhere.
Organizers also say they are in need of additional materials and supplies, including:
If you'd like to help, site manager Larry Gill can be reached at (251) 509-2066.
More information on "Homes For Our Troops" and Ryan Newell can be found below this article under Related Links.