Marine Cpl. Kevin Dubois lost his legs at the hip during a tour of duty in Afghanistan on July 31, 2011 when he stepped on a bomb while clearing a landing zone for a helicopter to evacuate an injured soldier.
He was on his second deployment and earned a Purple Heart for his efforts.
After risking his life to give others freedom, Homes For Our Troops, a national non-profit organization that builds and finances specially adapted houses for disabled veterans, is making sure he regains his independence. They are constructing him a $400,000 wheelchair-accessible home in Burrillville.
Since 2004, Homes For Our Troops has built 134 homes at no cost to recipients, and are in the process of constructing 38 more.
To help with Dubois’ home, CertaPro Painters of southern Rhode Island, along with other sponsors, is donating painting and labor, as well as hosting a fundraiser, “Tasting for Troops,” at 1149 Restaurant at 1149 Division Street on Sept. 11, America’s National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Dubois said he and his wife, Kayla, were at a complete loss for words when they found out about the help they are receiving.
“It makes you really humble to hear that all these people are supporting us,” he said.
Dubois, who enlisted in 2008 and served until November 2012, grew up in Lincoln, where he is living with his in-laws while the house is being built. He and Kayla are looking forward to moving into their new Burrillville home.
“We like it there,” said Dubois, a dispatcher at the Lincoln Police Department. “It’s a little more rural and there’s a lot of privacy. It’s nice.”
His current situation prevents him from living comfortably, as the shower is located on the second floor. Getting up and down stairs, he said, isn’t easy. Not being able to reach items that are stored in cabinets is also frustrating.
“The cabinets are too high, so I’m constantly bothering my wife to grab stuff for me,” Dubois said.
But the wheelchair-accessible home will allow him to do daily tasks most people take for granted.
“I’ll be able to do everything in the whole house,” he said. “There are trays in the cabinets that pull down and go back up [and] there’s no second floor. It’s a really big ranch-style house and totally built for someone in a wheelchair. It will be great to have our freedom back and get started with our family,” he said, as he and Kayla are planning to have children.
Groundbreaking took place May 18, with building likely to wrap up in November. Dubois is eager to check out the finished product.
“I go up pretty much every week,” he said. “It’s awesome to see.”
He won’t be able to attend the fundraiser because he is participating in the Minute Man Challenge, a 440-mile bike ride from Massachusetts to Philadelphia sponsored by Ride to Recovery. The ride will take about seven days.
“We’ll do anywhere between 50 to 70 miles a day,” said Dubois, noting that many veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan have taken part. “I’ve done a lot of hand cycling to keep me active and in shape, so that’s one of the things I’m going to be doing.”
According to Jovana Ferra, operations manager for CertaPro Painters of southern Rhode Island, her whole office will be at the fundraiser. She is thrilled of CertaPro’s national campaign, which supports Homes For Our Troops.
Since April of this year, CertaPro has raised nearly $43,000 for Homes For Our Troops, with $35,000 coming from fundraisers such as 5K races, silent auctions and social occasions. Upcoming events include more races and a golf tournament. Other funds are raised via donations solicited by their locations across North America.
The Sept. 11 fundraiser is part of CertaPro’s initiative to raise $200,000 during the next two years to support Homes for Our Troops. They aim to host 10 to 12 fundraisers each year.
“Everybody in our office has a special place in their heart for our service men and women,” Ferra said. “We really want it to be an enjoyable event. For everybody, 9-11 is such a sad day and the goal was to take an awful day in American history and create an opportunity for people to give back. This isn’t going to beat us. We’re still going strong.”
The fundraiser, which begins at 6 p.m., will feature a silent auction for an iPad, along with a raffle for tickets to a Boston Bruins game, a show at the Providence Performing Arts Center, a visit to Mystic Aquarium, and other items. The band High Definition will provide a live performance.
CertaPro is incurring food costs, with 1149 donating some appetizers. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres include antipasto skewers, chicken skewers, tomato basil salad, spring rolls, pork wontons and more. A cash bar will also be available.
Tickets for $20 apiece can be purchased in advance at southern-rhode-island.certapro.com/hoftsocial.aspx. A limited amount of tickets will be available at the door.
Ferra encourages anyone who cannot attend to make a donation. Donations should be made payable to “Homes for Our Troops.” Donors can mail checks to CertaPro Painters at 1643 Warwick Avenue, Ste. 188, Warwick, R.I. 02889-1525, or via the link above.
Aside from CertaPro and Homes For Our Troops, the Rhode Island Builders Association, Caldwell & Johnson Custom Builders and Remodelers, Builders Helping Heroes, Volvo Rents, Armstrong, Mastic Home Exteriors, Kohler, CertainTeed, and Harvey Building Products have volunteered and made donations to make the project possible.
“I would like to thank all of the supporters in Rhode Island and all around the country that are helping us out,” Dubois said.