One day in 2012 changed the life of retired US Army Sgt. Stefan LeRoy. He was just a 21-year-old who was deployed to Afghanistan but he lost both his legs when an IED exploded while he was carrying a wounded comrade toward a waiting helicopter.
Both legs were lost instantly, one of them having been amputated above the knee while the other below the knee. But LeRoy recovered and got prosthetic legs. The loss of his legs didn’t dampen the enthusiasm he has for life and has inspired others with his strong will.
Participating in adaptive sports also helped LeRoy in his healing.
LeRoy told The Palm Beach Post, “It was great to have an outlet because I easily could’ve just sat around and drank and felt sorry for myself. But instead, I went to adaptive sports.”
He managed to run in four Boston Marathons and did hand-cycling on two more as well as having participated in two Invictus Games. The Invictus Games are sporting events organized for injured military veterans internationally.
LeRoy first met his wife, Katie Smith LeRoy, in 2014 and the couple recently welcomed Finnleigh, their first child, in May.
As inspiring as LeRoy’s story has been, one area of his life is still full of struggle, and that’s in his own house. This is because the apartment where they live in Jupiter, Florida, was not designed to accommodate a wheelchair.
The narrow hallway and tiny bedrooms meant navigating through them with a wheelchair was difficult as he always bumped into things.
But thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation, LeRoy and his family will receive the dream home that they deserve. They will get a customized smart home that not only has a lot of space for LeRoy to move comfortably around in but also specialized technology that will help improve their quality of life.
The three-bedroom house is under construction in nearby Abacoa which the LeRoy couple sees as a fantastic neighborhood to build a family.
Chris Kuban, the foundation’s representative, said the specially adapted smart home will have wide enough hallways for the wheelchair while the shower will feature a transfer bench. LeRoy will also be able to reach items high up in kitchen cabinets through a customized device.
“I can be myself inside the home and when I go outside I’ll adapt to the rest of the world,” LeRoy said.
The Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program hopes to give 100 percent mortgage-free homes to the most severely wounded veterans in America so that their day-to-day lives can be improved.
LeRoy looks forward to a home where he can be more hands-on as a parent, such as being able to bathe his baby girl because the bathroom has enough space for a wheelchair.
“To be present and participate in raising my daughter, I think that’s the biggest part,” LeRoy told the Palm Beach Post.
This home is one for keeps even as they keep working and serving their community.
Speaking to MassLive regarding his latest Boston Marathon, LeRoy said, “My job, my service wasn’t really over just because I’m injured.
“I could continue to serve others by showing them, and inspiring them, and encouraging them.”
And having a new home that is perfect for his needs can only help him rejuvenate and re-energize as he keeps running in the race called life.
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