Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A HOME FOR OSHAY; A Custom Home for the Paralyzed Teen Is Complete

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A HOME FOR OSHAY; A Custom Home for the Paralyzed Teen Is Complete

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT COLEMAN

SANDERSON - He had become adept at steering his motorized wheelchair, but he still felt trapped in his own home.

When 16-year-old Milton Oshay Johnson returned to Sanderson after months in the hospital rehabilitating from a fractured C-3 vertebrae that left him paralyzed from the neck down, he was penned in only two rooms.

His wheelchair couldn't make it through smaller doorways in his parents' mobile home, and the Baker County High School sophomore, who was injured during football practice, lacked any semblance of privacy.

That all changed Saturday.

Wide-open spaces and smooth, hardwood floors greeted Oshay and his family as they stepped into a new home. From foundation to furnishings, the 2,188-square-foot house was finished in about 30 days.

Fred Munson, a Baker County-based home builder, spearheaded the construction efforts with help from the community and the Northeast Florida Builders Association's Builders Care. He said it was built with Oshay's needs in minds.

All the doors are 3 feet wide to accommodate a wheelchair, and the living room is cavernous. Oshay steered his wheelchair from the front door to the kitchen without hitting a single snag.

Munson, who has known Oshay since he played football with his son when the pair were in elementary school, said he volunteered his services after someone brought up Oshay's living situation during a Football Boosters Club meeting.

"If I could do more projects like this and still keep some food on the table, I'd just build houses for people who needed them," Munson said as moisture formed at the corners of his eyes. "This got to my heart. I'm holding back tears right now."

PAID IN FULL

Bill Wilson, executive director of the Builders Care organization, said the home is paid in full.

So is everything in it - including the furniture and the expensive equipment used to maneuver Oshay in and out of bed. …

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