Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds
Armed with rakes, hoes and whole lot of spirit, Lancaster High School students worked hard to clear and clean land in preparation of an expected May 6 groundbreaking ceremony to build a specially adapted “Smart Home” for Antelope Valley Army Veteran Jerral Hancock and his family.
Former Army Specialist Hancock was severely injured on his 21st birthday, six years ago in Iraq while driving an M-1 Abrams tank. He lost his left arm and is paralyzed from the chest down.
Known for bringing history to life and on a personal level, Lancaster High School history teacher Jamie Goodreau and her class formed OATH – Operation All The Way Home in support of Hancock. In less than one year students have raised $182,000 to build Hancock and his family a new home; however, more money is still needed to complete their efforts.
The new home will have a remote controlled system so the wounded warrior and his two children can control the temperature, see who is at front door and speak to Jerral’s mother, Stacie, and his stepfather, Derrik, in a guest house on the same property.
“I’m just doing a small part in huge project,” said architect John Svalbe of Svalbe Architects, Inc., and Antelope Valley Engineering Inc., who is donating his time for the Hancock family. He said he felt honored to be working on such a worthy cause and impressed with the students and community for working so hard.
Student Theressa Mertinze said she got involved the day Hancock spoke to her class.
“My grandpa has both legs missing and he was getting around and able to do more than Jerral. When I found out Jerral literally got stuck in his house, it made me want to help. Jerral and his family deserve a really nice home too.”
Actor/musician and Humanitarian Gary Sinise and the Gary Sinise Foundation has joined their fundraising efforts and will host a Lt. Dan Band Benefit Concert 7 p.m., May 10 at the JetHawks Stadium to raise the remaining funds needed to build the new home. For more information and tickets, visit www.oathtickets.com.