There's no place like home, especially for one Land O' Lakes disabled veteran who spent 36 months in a hospital bed. On Tuesday, some volunteers helped make U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jose Pequeno's home even sweeter.
Pequeno spent his early adulthood protecting others. He served as a Chief of Police in his hometown, and joined the Marines when he was just 17.
Today, at age 38, his life is dramatically different. He's paralyzed and wheelchair-bound after getting caught in a grenade explosion while he was deployed in Iraq.
"The doctor said to me, let him go. He's not going to make it. It will be a tremendous miracle," said Pequeno's mother and caretaker, Nellie Bagley.
Pequeno turned out to be that miracle. After three years in a hospital bed, he's finally back where his heart is.
"He loved home. He loved the home setting. We took him home and his whole life changed, much better," Bagley said Tuesday.
His family's Land O' Lakes house needed extensive repairs to meet his needs. Help finally arrived on Tuesday, thanks to volunteer crews from Home Depot and The Abilities Foundation.
"We widened some walkways to make it easier for the wheelchair. We went ahead and put some lava rock around his pool and lanai, because a bunch of dirt was flowing into his pool area where he does rehabilitation," said Frank Essex of Home Depot.
A generator was also donated, to provide a back-up power source for his medical equipment and some much-needed peace of mind.
"You say a generator is a luxury. No, not for Jose, it's not a luxury. For Jose, it's a necessity," Bagley said.
Volunteer crews donated about $5,000 worth of supplies and countless hours of time to complete the renovation.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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