Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

May 21, 2013

Wounded veteran gets a new home

Jack Molitor

— Tim Senkowski is looking forward to eating Thanksgiving dinner with his family in his new home.

Just a few months ago, Senkowski and his wife Erica were concerned about where they would live when he returned home to Anderson after a year and a half of rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Senkowski, 30, lost both of his legs after an IED explosion during his service in Afghanistan in October 2011.

About 300 friends, family, and complete strangers of the family came together Saturday to introduce the Senkowskis to a six-acre plot of land off of Madison County Road 500 West in Edgewood. It’s now theirs to build a house, which will be paid for through contributions to the effort.

“I’m so excited. The day is finally here,” said Senkowski, a U.S. Army veteran. “We’re looking forward to having a place where we can live and grow old. Some place our children can come back to. Some place to call my own.”

The Path Home, a non-profit organization based in Hendricks County that helps veterans and their families after they return home, has worked with local construction unions and contractors to plan the home, which will feature a house for Senkowski and his family and a house for his mother, Tamra Rigdon, and stepfather, J.R. Rigdon.

The house will feature accessibility designs to make life easier for Tim and Erica, who also suffers from a disability.

Senkowski said the counters will be lower, appliances will be more accessible and there will be a wheelchair-friendly shower.

Senkowski had expected not to come back home from rehab until October. Now he can look forward to being in his own home by then.

Since he returned from Maryland, the couple and their children, 7-year-old Dusty and 2-year-old Embry, have been living with the Rigdons, who moved into the garage of their home to make space. The move to the new home will be a great relief to everyone involved.

“[My mom] has been a real pain in the butt,” Senkowski joked. “But seriously, this is a very exciting time for all of us.”

The supporters at the groundbreaking — including Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith, State Rep. Terri Austin, Colts mascot Blue, and about 100 bikers — watched Senkowski stick a shovel in the soil to start the groundbreaking.

“Thank you,” Smith said to Senkowski. “And I think everyone else here thanks you, too. People you have never met are safe because of you and people like you.”

Several key contributors to the project also attended, including Jay Ricker, owner of Ricker’s convenience stores, who donated about $30,000 to The Path Home.

Bob Luenebrink, chairman of The Path Home, said the organization helps about 800 veterans a year, but this is the first time they’ve built a home for a veteran.

“We want to make sure Tim has a home here in this country he fought to defend,” Luenebrink said. “We want to give him a place of his own.”