NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Christmas is coming a bit early for a young U.S. Marine veteran with disabilities.
It’s not Santa Claus who gave the New Jersey man the life-changing gift.
He sacrificed more than most could even imagine and 28-year-old Scott Nokes says he would do it all over again.
“There is never a need to thank me for my service, I am beyond happy to serve this great nation,” Nokes said.
On Monday, his community did just that in a monumental way with the help from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The marine was awarded a custom built smart home, mortgage-free.
“We decided very early one that we wanted this to be a foundation that brings people out of their sadness and bring some joy,” foundation chairman and CEO Frank Siller said.
“This is more than I feel that I deserve,” Nokes said.
On Corporal Nokes’ second tour in Afghanistan, he contracted an infection causing amputation of both legs below the knee and the loss of most of his vision. He moved back in with his parents for recovery – this new home now gives back his independence.
“Ability to do so much more, ability to start my future after my recovery,” Nokes explained.
The 2,800 square foot home is located in Howell, New Jersey, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. It has everything he needs, including a fully automatic toilet.
“Seat lifts up as you approach it, seat is heated, it’s auto flushing, auto deodorizing,” John Ponte, the director of the foundation’s smart home program said.
The kitchen was designed to make cooking easier when Scott is using a wheelchair. Both the front door and the door to the garage are automatic. Since Scott can make out some colors, designers made sure the lighting was different in each room.
“We changed LED on the light switches, so each room has its own color, so he will memorize the colors, if he sees blue that he is in kitchen, red in living room,” Ponte explained.
It took six months and 700 people to complete the project. Scott is hoping to see more compassion like this in the new year.
“After 9/11 I have the distinct feeling of everyone coming together and I don’t think I’ve felt like this since then, we need to continue to do the right thing for each other,” the marine added.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has built 85 smart homes around the country, but this is the first one in New Jersey. The whole project cost about a half-a-million dollars.