The front lawn outside of Chris Levi’s residence was filled with more than 100 people Tuesday morning, welcoming him inside his brand new “smart home” in Melville.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation handed Levi the keys to his customized home, which runs off of an iPad, during a giant, and warm, homecoming celebrating the hero just in time for Independence Day.
Levi lost both of his legs and suffered major damage to his right arm in an IED explosion in March 2008 while he was serving as an Army ranger in Iraq. The 35-year-old Purple Heart recipient and his family will now reside in the 2,800-square-foot ranch, featuring three bedrooms, 2 ½-baths and is valued at more than $500,000. The home was customized to help him live comfortably and independently with his physical challenges.
Motorcycles escorts, provided by the Suffolk County Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department, revved their engines down the street where an American flag covered the home that Levi had yet to see. A helicopter flew above the crowd who cheered along to the National Anthem, hands over their hearts, while volunteers applauded the vet.
Levi is the first Long Island recipient of the “Smart Home Program,” created by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which became possible with help from the generosity of Northwell Health, Home Depot and Belgard.
The Melville home is the 75th house donated by the foundation.
The Home Depot Foundation helped to support the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and is a part of foundation’s ongoing efforts to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans.
“I am insanely lucky, not only for the Tunnel to Tower’s Foundation, not for this house, not for the car I drive or the job that I have,” Levi said, “but when I was injured my family was around me all the time.”
The grateful veteran will be sharing his impressive new smart home with his family, including his two young nieces.
FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller was killed in the Sept.11, 2001 attacks. He had just finished his shift at Brooklyn’s Squad One when received a report of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear. He drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security. Instead of turning away, he strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back, and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he was killed.