April 22, 2007: The Westbrook Family
Go, army! This week we invaded Lawton, Oklahoma. I didn't know what to think of Lawton, but after spending a wonderful week here with the community and our troops from nearby Fort Sill, it's a place I won't soon forget. There's something very sweet about small towns, and the support we received was huge! Overwhelming even. I met so many wonderful people this week, including the members of an organization called Adopt-a-Soldier, which was started to send letters and care packages to deployed soldiers to let them know that we care. We were able to get 7,000 letters sent to soldiers deployed around the world.
Our goal this week was to get the Westbrooks into a house that would work for them. James, the son, and Gene, the dad, are both in wheelchairs. Dad suffered his injury while training troops in Iraq and returned from the field a paraplegic. One day a few months ago, on the way to a church picnic, the Westbrooks were in a terrible car accident that left young James paralyzed as well. With them being a military family, it was really difficult for Gene to ask for help. Lawton, the loving community it is, sent us over 25,000 letters, including one from the commanding general of the local army base. We had to help this family.... After seeing their house, I knew that they needed our help. They couldn't get one wheelchair through the confines of their house, never mind two.
My projects this week were the common areas of the house, the master bedroom, and the daughter Elizabeth's room. I wanted to make sure they had plenty of freedom of movement in every room. On top of giving them a functional house I also wanted to give them their dream house. The style of the house is a prairie schoolhouse. In the end, our builder Ron Nance and Oakwood Communities built such a beautiful home, it ended up being my dream house as well.
I left this week feeling proud and honored. I was proud about the home we built for the Westbrooks and proud to be an American. It was about the soldiers this week, a constant reminder of the dedication that they have for our country, and if Gene could do it again he would.