Retired United States Army Sgt. Stefan LeRoy was just 21 years old when he lost both of his legs while deployed in Afghanistan in 2012.
It was a day that would forever change the trajectory of LeRoy’s life, and today, the retired veteran is inspiring lives with his incredible enthusiasm for life and refusal to surrender to adversity.
LeRoy was carrying a wounded soldier toward a helicopter when an improvised explosion device detonated in his path. He lost both legs instantly; one leg was amputated above the knee and the other below the knee, according to the Gary Sinise Foundation.
As he recovered and learned to use prosthetic legs, LeRoy found healing, strength and encouragement through participating in adaptive sports.
“It was great to have an outlet because I easily could’ve just sat around and drank and felt sorry for myself,” LeRoy told The Palm Beach Post. “But instead I went to adaptive sports.”
He went on to run four Boston Marathons, hand-cycle two more and has participated in two Invictus Games, international sporting events for injured military veterans and personnel.
LeRoy met his soulmate, Katie Smith LeRoy in 2014, and the two are now married. They recently welcomed their first baby, Finnleigh, who was born in May.
For all that LeRoy has overcome and accomplished in his less than 30 years, there is still one area of life where he struggles to find independence: his own home.
The apartment that LeRoy shares with his family in Jupiter, Florida, is not cut out to accommodate a wheelchair.
Instead of being able to move comfortably about his home, LeRoy often finds himself struggling to navigate his wheelchair through a narrow hallway and tiny bedrooms, accidentally smacking walls and doors with his wheelchair as he moves about.
While LeRoy has a history of making the best of a difficult situation, soon, the veteran will not have to worry about tiny living quarters.
The Gary Sinise Foundation has selected LeRoy and his family as recipients of a customized smart home, which will boast specialized technology and lots of space to help the veteran live a higher quality of life.
The three-bedroom home is being built in the nearby community of Abacoa, which LeRoy and his wife believe will be a terrific neighborhood to raise a family.
According to foundation representative Chris Kuban, the specially adapted smart home will feature hallways wide enough for a wheelchair, a transfer bench in the shower and a customized piece of technology that will enable LeRoy to reach items higher up in kitchen cabinets.
LeRoy and his family hope to move into their new home this fall.
“I can be myself inside the home and when I go outside I’ll adapt to the rest of the world,” LeRoy said.
The goal of the Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program is to provide 100 percent mortgage-free homes to America’s most severely wounded veterans, helping to ease the day-to-day challenges these war heroes face.
LeRoy is looking forward to living in a home that will empower him to be a hands-on parent, like having enough space in the bathroom for a wheelchair as he bathes his baby girl.
“To be present and participate in raising my daughter, I think that’s the biggest part,” LeRoy told the Palm Beach Post.
The couple plans on living in the home forever, as they continue to work and serve in their community.
“My job, my service wasn’t really over just because I’m injured,” LeRoy told MassLive in an April interview about his latest Boston Marathon.
“I could continue to serve others by showing them, and inspiring them, and encouraging them.”
Having a new home that is functional for the wounded war hero will play a large part in ensuring LeRoy can re-energize and rejuvenate in between races and offer him a slower pace of life as he ages.
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