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Volunteers Help Whitten Family

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Benevolent minded craftsmen descend upon Brian & Angie Whitten's Walker County home Thursday, to help the couple's son Austin, who continues to recover from a June 2012 swimming mishap that has left him partially paralyzed.

Steps 2 Hope, a local non-profit which strives to assist victims of catastrophic accidents help regain their mobility, has stepped up to build the Whittens a carport, so Austin doesn't get drenched during rainstorms like the one volunteers worked through Thursday.

"I'm blown away, I can't believe it," beams Austin, as he returns home from classes at nearby LaFayette High School and sees the improvements already done to the family's home.

"Its a little overwhelming," admits Angie Whitten. " We're so grateful that people would do this for Austin."

Steps 2 Hope founder Mark Wilson says he met the Whittens when they volunteered to help build a home for a local soldier who lost both of his legs while deployed in Afghanistan. Wilson spearheaded the program after his son David was nearly killed when a tornado destroyed much of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee a few years ago. "Someone told me when my son was hurt that you're part of a club that no one wants to join but people who do join it have this unique bond," says Wilson.

The Whittens say home improvement projects such as this one not only help their son in the physical sense, but also mentally, Austin continues to progress and one day walk again. " Its a slow process that eventually, I believe he'll get there," says Austin's father Brian. "Its in God's time, not ours," adds Angie, who says her son's upper body strength and sensory perceptions have greatly improved during the months of therapy and convalescence.

Wilson extends his thanks to the team of volunteers that have helped, noting the contributions of D & B Carpentry, Dream Tech Homes and Howard Jones Hardware for deeply discounted building supplies.

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