Gary Sinise Foundation building Duluth home for injured veteran

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Life for Cedric King has been full of surprises.

He never saw himself as an amputee, never knew one day he'd be crawling through the floor of his own bathroom because his wheelchair wouldn't fit through the door.

Having grown up in a mobile home "in one of the poorest areas of North Carolina," King also could never have foreseen he'd one day live in one of the more affluent subdivisions north of Atlanta.

That's because King didn't know there were philanthropic groups out there with plans to turn his life around. This weekend, the Gary Sinise Foundation is honoring King and another local veteran — USMC Cpl. Sean Adams of Gainesville — during groundbreaking ceremonies on empty home lots in Duluth and Maysville (in Jackson County).

Following the ceremonies Friday and Saturday, the foundation and other organizations and businesses will pitch in to build "smart homes" free of charge for these men, who in 2012 both lost their legs and suffered other injuries while serving in Afghanistan.

Each residence will be designed with the specific needs of each former service member in mind, easing the everyday burdens that came with the loss of their legs.

A U.S. Army Master Sergeant with a wife and two daughters, King currently lives in North Carolina and said he's excited about moving soon to Sugarloaf Country Club. He added that the whole affair has been "a blessing."

"(The Gary Sinise Foundation) just comes along and says to me, 'you don't have to worry about struggling anymore,' " King said. "It shows you how much things can change. It gives you an appreciation for everything that's happened in this life."

Added King: "When I was a kid, I grew up in the hood, where there were drug dealers all around; four years ago, I was in the middle of a shootout with some Taliban; today, I'm about to move into a house in a beautiful neighborhood with my family."

Adams, who grew up in Gainesville, is also filled with gratitude. At the end of June 2015, he was surprised by a phone call from Gary Sinise himself.

"When I spoke with Gary, I told him, 'you should give this to somebody else who earned it more,' " Adams said. "Gary said to me, 'no, you did your part for this country, and we're going to do ours to pay you back.' "

Adams' home will be located in Maysville. He'll attend the groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, along with members of the Gary Sinise Foundation.

According to a news release, by the end of 2016 the foundation will have 44 specially adapted smart homes underway or completed as part of its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment).

The Gary Sinise Foundation "honors America's defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need."

Each specially-adapted smart home is customized to ease the everyday complications that come with their injuries.

Adams, who currently lives at his parents' house, said it's been "strenuous" trying to navigate through the abode in his wheelchair.

"I have to get up on top of the counters to get something out of the cabinet," Adams said. "I can't get out in the yard too well, and there's all sorts of obstacles."

Added Adams: "This new home is going to allow me to be more independent. It's helping to give me back the life I had before."