Smart home for Cape Coral Purple Heart hero a true community effort

Jeff Koehn's picture
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On July 12, 2010, Cape Coral native Corey Kent’s life changed forever.

While on patrol with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan, Kent stepped on an IED that exploded underneath him. Kent survived the explosion. But, suffered the loss of both his legs and fingers from his left hand as a result of the explosion.

Kent spent the next few years in hospitals enduring around 70 surgeries and countless months of rehabilitation.

In 2011 on his first return to Cape Coral, Kent was met with a hero’s welcome that included receiving the keys to the city and a new car. Also, the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association (CCCIA) undertook a project that saw the building of a 500 square foot addition to the family’s Southwest Cape Coral home, that allowed Kent to live independently from his mother and stepfather.

Kent retired from the Army with the rank of Sergeant and returned to the new addition and his hometown full-time in 2013. Since then, he has spent his time as he says laying low and getting acclimated. Now, more comfortable, Kent is ready for the next step, and the community that has warmly embraced him over the past five years was there again to help him along the way.

On Thursday afternoon, the Mariner High School graduate returned to his alma mater with another hero’s welcome.

Hundreds packed the stands, and lined Chiquita Boulevard and Tropicana Parkway to welcome Kent, in a ceremony to announce the groundbreaking of Kent’s new home in Northeast Cape Coral.

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The new home is the result of a program sponsored by the national non-profit organization the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The organization, among other initiatives, provides funding to build homes for soldiers who were severely wounded during their service. According to foundation Chief Operating Officer John Hodge, who was on hand at Thursday’s ceremony, is either in the process of building or has built 47 homes for wounded soldiers across the country, “Our goal is to build them a home for life,” Hodge told the crowd.

Hodge said his organization was approached by Gary Aubuchon, president of Aubuchon Homes, a Cape Coral builder, about building a home for Kent here in Cape Coral, “That was unusual. We typically have to seek builders to build these homes.”

Aubuchon says that the idea was something he immediately jumped on when hearing the home was for Kent, but, it would have never gotten to this point without the support of the many vendors his company works with on a daily basis, “We asked our vendors to do what they could. And to a person, they all stood up and said they were in just tell them what they need to do. It was an amazing response. It is typical of this community who has a tremendous willingness to take up a challenge when it is presented. And we saw that exemplified in this situation.”

With the support of the vendors and the foundation, the next step was convincing Kent, who had just purchased the lot where the home will be located, “We were in the process of saving money to build in the next few years. They contacted me and with the urging of Brandy (Kent’s fiancé), we decided to do it.”

When complete, Kent’s home will not be your average three bedroom, three bathroom house seen spread throughout Cape Coral, instead, it will be a home that features a number of amenities using the latest technology to meet Kent’s unique needs, “No steps in and out so Corey can easily move around. It will have wide hallways, wide doors, bathrooms built appropriately. It is designed for complete mobility,” says Aubuchon.  “It will be a smart home that he can control electronically with his smart phone or IPad. It will have cabinets that come down so he can access the upper cabinets. It will have spaces where he can wheel up under the cabinets. Completely accessible. He will be able to live in it forever if he chooses and will provide for him and his family well.”

If receiving a home wasn’t big enough news coming from the ceremony, Hodge also announced the engagement of Kent and his girlfriend, Brandy Quinn.

Immediately following the ceremony, representatives from the foundation and Aubuchon Homes joined Kent and Quinn at the lot of their future home, where a bulldozer signified the groundbreaking by knocking down a large Pine Tree located in the middle of the property.

As Kent surveyed the activity and the future location of his new home, he says he been taken aback by the support of his hometown, “I am blown away by all the support this community has given me. To see the entire student body out there was pretty amazing. I never thought I would be speaking in front of all the people at Mariner High. It was pretty surreal.

With crews now beginning work, Aubuchon says the completion date of the home is September 11 this year. And, unlike many homes where the closing date is flexible, that is not the case for this particular project, “This house will be done, and Corey and Brittany can move in on September 11. It will be done. We will be here on September 11 handing them the keys to their new home.”