FREETOWN (CBS) – He’s a married father of a little boy, a big Patriots fan, and he lost his leg serving in Iraq. But on Tuesday Army Sgt. Chris Gomes got to see his soon to be new home, with help from some special volunteers.
Eight New England Patriots turned out to help a true American patriot. “October 2008, I was hit with a roadside bomb. I lost my right leg above the knee, broke my tibia and fibula, my ankle was dislocated, muscle and nerve damage,” says Gomes.
After more than a dozen surgeries and a very long recovery, Chris, his wife and son are about to move into a new house, a thank you gift from a Mass. group called Homes For Our Troops. And it’s mortgage free. “I’m speechless, and very grateful,” says Gomes.
The Pats players are among the many volunteers and donors making this home a reality. “It’s well deserved. We know they are over there, doing jobs a lot of people wouldn’t go over there and do so, much respect,” says Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler.
The home is fully accessible. “There are things like wider doorways, roll under counter tops, roll in showers. When Chris ends his day he wants to be able to take his leg off and get in his wheelchair and be comfortable,” says Kristi Galanek from Homes For Our Troops.
Chris can’t do all those things where he lives now. “The other place is just more restricted. I can’t use the wheelchair at all. Stairs, I’ve had my issues of falling down stairs,” says Gomes.
“Chris is very deserving of this and it’s a great opportunity to get out and show our appreciation,” says Patriot center David Andrews.
Even 9-year-old Blake Gomes is excited. “I think that it’s going to be great,” he says. Especially for his Dad. “That he’ll have a better life,” he adds.
The house really means freedom. Now that Chris won’t have a mortgage to pay he wants to return to school and finish his studies in counter-terrorism. This weekend several hundred volunteers will work to put the final touches on the house. Sgt. Gomes gets the keys in December.