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.
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.
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.
“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.
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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