Disabled vet and his family get a new ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ for free

Among the worst days of Shawnne Springman’s life were those in 2003 and 2004 when he, as an Army soldier fighting in Iraq, suffered a traumatic brain injury, a knee injury and the beginnings of post traumatic stress disorder.

One of his best days occurred Friday when a “Welcome Home” parade was held in his honor in Lexington and for his family’s new home on Black Water Lane off Leestown Road.

The 2,100-square-foot, two-story house with four bedrooms and two bathrooms was made possible by the national non-profit Building Homes for Heroes.

The New York-based organization builds or modifies homes, and gifts them, mortgage-free, to men and women who were injured while serving the United States during the time of wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The program started in 2006. By the end of this year, it plans to gift its 200th home in the nation. It has given away four in Kentucky. Chase Bank has given the non-profit 162 homes, including the one for the Springman family.

Friday’s ceremony for the family included a 1-mile parade featuring members of the Lexington police and fire departments and the sheriff’s office, veterans groups, motorcyclists and bag pipers who appropriately played “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Representatives from Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s office and the state were in attendance. Gorton declared Friday “Shawnee Springman Day” in Lexington.

The home for the Springman family, built in 2002, was completely renovated and refurbished.

When Chase Bank donated it to Building Homes for Heroes about two years ago, it was valued at $160,000. About $120,000 of renovations were done on it.

One of the non-profit’s corporate partners based in Lexington, Valvoline, completely remodeled the house’s garage at about $10,000 and decked it out with various items, including tools and other household items for the new owners.

Jazmine Leon, a spokeswoman for the non-profit, said it has about 5,000 to 6,000 applications for the free homes.

“The only thing the new owners are responsible for are the upkeep and taxes,” she said.

Springman, choking up with gratitude, said “words cannot express how he feels” with the new gift for his wife Jaime and their three children Takoda, 19, Tristan, 21, and Tessa, 17.

“We are so grateful,” he said.

After the ceremony, the family invited all the attendees to visit their new home.