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PHOTOS: FL vet who lost both legs in Afghanistan gets custom-built smart home

US Army Sgt Stefan LeRoy (Ret.), with his wife Katie, enjoy their new specially adapted smart home during a dedication ceremony by the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program in Jupiter Thursday December 12, 2019. [RICHARD GRAULICH/palmbeachpost.com]

2019 has been a big year for Stefan LeRoy.

He married wife Katie in February. Their daughter, Finnleigh, was born in late May. And on Thursday, all three — plus their dog, Knoxville — moved into their new home.

The house, at the corner of Dakota and Greenway drives in Jupiter’s Abacoa neighborhood, is a product of the Gary Sinise Foundation and a fleet of local and national partners.

US Army Sgt Stefan LeRoy (Ret.), shows how an oversized shower with a bench will help him inside his specially adapted smart home during a dedication ceremony by the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program in Jupiter Thursday December 12, 2019. [RICHARD GRAULICH/palmbeachpost.com]

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The mortgage-free home was custom-built and donated to the family to meet LeRoy’s needs. A retired sergeant in the U.S. Army, LeRoy stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan while carrying a wounded friend in 2012. He lost both legs.

The new, three-bedroom house will make day-to-day life easier for LeRoy, 28, who gets around using prostheses or a wheelchair. It has wider hallways, cameras and a pull-down rack in his closet.

There’s a plate for Knoxville, LeRoy’s service dog, to open a door leading to the garage. An iPad controls an array of the smart home’s features.

US Army Sgt Stefan LeRoy (Ret.), shows off custom clothing racks inside his specially adapted smart home during a dedication ceremony by the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program in Jupiter Thursday December 12, 2019. [RICHARD GRAULICH/palmbeachpost.com]

The foundation, founded by actor Gary Sinise of “Forrest Gump” fame, has built or is underway on 80 homes for those wounded in military service or as a first responder.

Stefan and Katie Leroy both have tasks they’re looking forward to doing in the new home.

Katie can’t wait to cook a meal with her husband. They’ve been living in an apartment where that was hard to do.

US Army Sgt Stefan LeRoy (Ret.), with his wife Katie, and and dog Knoxville, raises the American flag in front of their new specially adapted smart home during a dedication ceremony by the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program in Jupiter Thursday December 12, 2019. [RICHARD GRAULICH/palmbeachpost.com]

“We finally get to do it together with all this space,” the 40-year-old said. “That’s been a challenge.”

And for the first time, Stefan Leroy said, he’ll be able to give baby Finnleigh a bath.

“This house will allow me to be the involved father I want to be and the helpful husband I need to be,” he said.

LeRoy, originally of Santa Rosa, Calif., moved to the Jupiter area with Katie a few years ago. They met through a cycling program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2014.

US Army Sgt Stefan LeRoy (Ret.), his daughter Finnleigh, and dog Knoxville, sit inside their specially adapted smart home during a dedication ceremony by the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program in Jupiter Thursday December 12, 2019. [RICHARD GRAULICH/palmbeachpost.com]

It was at Walter where he also met Karen Hetherington, a case manager with the Semper Fi Fund. The organization, a Gary Sinise Foundation partner, aids injured and ill service members and their families.

Hetherington spoke at a neighborhood gathering Thursday, where the LeRoys arrived via an escort from Jupiter Police and the nonprofit Patriot Guard Riders.

Hetherington praised LeRoy’s resilience and highlighted his athletic accomplishments. He’s run a number of races, including the Boston Marathon four times. She noted that LeRoy handcycled the Marine Corps Marathon less than five months after he lost his legs.

“That just gives you an idea of the type of person Stefan is,” Hetherington said. “Grit and determination.”

LeRoy thanked the foundation and its partners for looking “at every single” detail to make the home totally accessible. Knowing the house was on the way gave him and Katie the peace of mind to start their family.

“It will truly change our life forever.”

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© 2019 The Palm Beach Post