Monday morning, in the Winds Way Farm subdivision in Aberdeen, a local hero received a life-changing gift. Retired Army Sgt. Joseph Bartel and his family received a house from Helping a Hero. Helping a Hero is a nonprofit that builds homes for military and first responders injured in the line of duty.
More than 100 people attended the Helping a Hero event in Aberdeen when Retired Army Sgt. Joseph Bartel received the “key” to his new home.
Their mission is “To empower our severely wounded heroes injured in the Post 9-11 Global War on Terror, by partnering with the wounded hero to build a specially adapted home designed to restore his/her independence.”
Helping a Hero recently partnered with Bass Pro Shops with the company funding ten homes and contributing 25% of the cost of an additional 100 homes. Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris stated, “We can never do enough to thank these families and all of our veterans who defend our freedoms. They mean everything to us, and we’re very grateful.”
Challenger was also present at the event. Challenger is a 32-year-old Bald Eagle that has been to shows throughout the nation. Challenger was the first bald eagle trained to fly free at sporting events. He was named in honor of the shuttle Challenger crew which was destroyed shortly after liftoff in January 1986. He no longer can fly but still makes gloved appearances.
Bartel joined the Marines in 2000 and did one deployment during the Iraq war. Several years later, he joined the Army. During his second deployment, his vehicle hit a landmine. He lost his leg and was medically discharged.
“Receiving this home is like a dream come true,” Bartel said. He mentioned how difficult it was for him to get around his old home. This one was built specifically for Bartel and is customized to help him be self-sufficient.
There was no official tally for how many people attended the ceremony, but local police estimated between 150 and 200 people in attendance. They heard a presentation about Bartel, and Lee Greenwood, who serves as an ambassador for Helping A Hero, sang his hit song “God Bless the USA.”
The house is 3,300 square feet. It is wheelchair accessible and features wide doors, a roll-in shower and sink, and unique safety features designed for Bartel.
Additionally, thanks to the donations of several local companies and a group of volunteers, the home is fully furnished, decorated, and in move-in condition.
The home was designed by Helping a Hero and was built by Pinehurst builder Caviness Land Development.
~Article, photo, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].