Thursday, July 19, 2012
The summer heat may have some construction crews working shorter days, but work on a new home for veteran Cpl. Tyler Huffman is in full force.
Huffman, a Fulton native, was injured in December 2010 while serving in Afghanistan. His injuries from the sniper bullet have left him paralyzed.
At a veteran’s appreciation dinner last year, Huffman’s family was offered a plot of land next to Joe and Kay Twehous so that they could build a new home in the newly formed Gray Creek subdivision.
Twehous said he wanted to give the lot to a deserving person.
“If Tyler doesn’t deserve this then who does?” he said recently.
In December, Huffman announced he would accept the offer. Soon after, the entire community learned of his desire to make Jefferson City his home, and Operation Tyler. a local campaign to build Huffman’s home, officially began and gained momentum quickly.
“It can be overwhelming, if you think about it,” Huffman said recently from his rental home in Columbia. “But everyone is helping us out so much. I never, ever, expected this or anything like this.”
So far, the donations have included:
• More than $52,000 in donations has been deposited for Huffman at Home Savings Bank.
• The Wounded Warriors for Family Support has pledged at least $50,000,
• The Joshua Chamberlain Society has pledged to help with the Huffmans’ monthly bills.
For Huffman, who is wheelchair bound, the new home represents a tangible need to address issues and challenges he faces in their Columbia rental home.
“I have torn up the doorways pretty good in this house,” Huffman said. “The big things are kitchen cabinets up on the wall. I really can only reach the bottom shelf. If the glass or plate is pushed back into the cabinet, I have to have my wife get it for me.”
Though his family has adjusted to his needs, he said, some things are still needed to make things easier for the long term.
“Using the (wheel)chair on carpet is really hard on your shoulders,” he said. “Really hard.”
Even a trip into the backyard to watch their son, Matthew, play is hard.
“There is a four-inch drop off of the concrete,” Huffman said. “You might not think that is much, but it is hard to get up and over it. It will be nice to get to go outside and play with my son and our dog and not have to worry about that.”