Land purchased to build wounded soldier new home
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - A local soldier, wounded in Afghanistan, is home for the holidays.
Another surgery and more rehab await Specialist Andrew Smith at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
For now, Andrew and his wife Tori are planning for the future.
Channel 3 introduced you to the couple months ago, when a local nonprofit stepped up to build them a home.
Friday Andrew and Tori got a look at where their home will be built, and invited Channel 3 along.
"It's been marked," laughed Andrew Smith, showing us where a friend carved his initials in a small oak tree. His wife's are there too.
The tree off Bill Jones Road has been claimed, as has the four acres around it.
"It's a blessing to know we are standing on our land right now," said Tori Smith.
"This is definitely a dream come true," added Andrew. "Less than year from being injured, and ... it's amazing."
Steps 2 Hope, a newly launched non-profit organization, purchased the land to build Specialist Andrew Smith and his wife Tori the home of their dreams.
It's been nine months since the Ooltewah native stepped on an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Since then, the couple has been at Walter Reed, where Andrew has endured surgeries and learned to walk on prosthetics.
Steps 2 Hope wants him to have a home that meets his needs when the couple returns to Chattanooga for good next summer.
"It's the way it should be," said Mark Wilson, founder of Steps 2 Hope. "Andrew and Tori have given a lot."
"It's just awesome to know the Lord has put these good people in our life, and given us this land that we can raise kids on."
The future is bright, knowing Andrew continues to take giant leaps in his recovery.
"Two walking sticks for outside," Andrew said, raising the two poles he uses to balance, "but when I'm walking around parking lots or stores I don't have any canes at all."
In January he will undergo one more surgery to repair damage to his abdomen.
He wants to be running when he comes home.
"He's going to be running around here on his blade legs," smiled Tori. "We're really excited about it."
Steps 2 Hope plans to break ground in March, with a one-week build coming in May or June.
The group is halfway to its goal, thanks to the generosity of Chattanoogans.
"Without the support from Chattanooga, the entire Chattanooga area, this would not have been possible," said Andrew, proudly.
HOW TO HELP:
Steps 2 Hope still needs contractors and donations to complete the project.
First Tennessee Bank has raised nearly $12,000 in it's "Two for Drew" campaign. You can donate at any local branch.
If you'd like to donate time, money, or resources visit Steps2Hope.com.
You can also send words of encouragement to Andrew and Tori. Mail should be addressed to:
Spc. Andrew T. Smith
General Delivery/WRNMMC/Postal Ops
8901 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20889