Posted at: 12/24/2012 5:36 PM
Updated at: 12/24/2012 5:42 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
AVERILL PARK - Air Force Technical Sgt. Joe Wilkinson got a first look around his new home Monday. It was custom-built to give him more independence, after becoming disabled during a tour in Iraq.
"Being here today it's truly amazing how it all came together, the community unbelievable it really hits the heart," Wilkinson said.
Paralyzed from the waist down and unable to live easily in conventional homes, a fundraising effort was launched to help.
Actor Gary Sinise, who played amputee Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump, played a benefit concert at the Washington Avenue Armory. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and local contractors worked to build a 'smart home,' with wider doorways, and easy-to-reach thermostats and bathroom fixtures.
With the touch of an iPad in the kitchen, Joe will be able to lower customized shelves, and get his own dishes.
"Even getting a cup of coffee. Simple things like that. Getting out of his own bedroom. It's the little things that nobody ever thinks about that would probably drive you crazy but now he can do it all by himself," said Lucretia Wilkinson, Joe's wife.
As the community drew together to wish Joe and his family happiness in their new home, Wilkinson said the best gift is their support.
"What the Tunnel of Towers has done is amazing. It just shows that you might get knocked down but it only counts if you get back up.
In Averill Park, Beth Wurtmann, NewsChannel 13.