Dozens of people gathered Thursday morning to break ground on a home for a very deserving Marine.
We've been following the story of JB Kerns, a triple amputee injured in Afghanistan during an IED blast.
Thanks to money raised across southwest Virginia and through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a custom home is now in the works. It's been a long time in the making. We're told because of the location, terrain, and custom design, it was harder to get the right people in place to make the house happen.
It's a smart home, which means everything can be operated from an iPad and it has features such as pull down cabinets to make sure Kerns can remain independent.
Kerns made a big entrance to the groundbreaking ceremony by knocking down trees where his future home will be.
"I'm just excited," said Kerns, who is closer to his dream home, a log cabin with a big porch. "It's pretty amazing. It's a beautiful home, so I can't wait."
The nearly 2900-square-foot home will be built overlooking the river. It will include a main floor and a full basement along with an elevator.
"With this house he's going to be able to fill whatever his dreams and expectations were. This house is designed in such a way we're expecting him to move on with his life, get married, have children, a family. So this house isn't just a plan for today or a couple years, this is really a plan for a long time to come," said John Hodge, the Tunnel to Towers director of operations.
The foundation has started designing and building 20 homes this year, including one in Chancellorsville, Virginia.
"Every time I get to do one of these is just it's just a wonderful day, a very emotional day for me, actually," Hodge said.
"I want to thank everyone who came out today and supported me. It's awesome to see all these guys out here," Kerns said.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Kerns was presented letters from Gary Sinise and NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth, both men he's met during his journey. Hodge says Kenseth wrote a personal check for $10,000 to help build Kerns' home.
The goal is to have Kerns's home finished in time for a Fourth of July barbeque.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation says they've added more staff to build even more homes next year.