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RAYNHAM (CBS) — A local resident and his new charity group held a fund-raiser Sunday afternoon to help the country’s first female armed services member to suffer a double amputation in a war zone.

Raynham resident John Gonsalves, a nationally lauded veterans advocate, is raising money to build a specially adapted home for U.S. Army Cpl. Sue Downes. In 2006, the Tennessee resident was wounded while serving in Afghanistan. She is the second U.S. woman to be awarded two Purple Heart medals.

Downes, who has two small children and has been living in a small mobile home, was flown to Massachusetts to attend the event. “In a wheelchair, it’s very hard to maneuver around,” she said of the mobile home. “The bathroom is not (wheelchair) accessible at all.”

Defining a New Generation, a charity founded recently by Gonsalves, held the fund-raiser at the Jared Monti Post in Raynham.

The wounded warrior said the support from Gonsalves and his charity is overwhelming. “It’s very heart-warming. It brings tears to my eyes,” Downes said.


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