Running for a reason: Hundreds in Raleigh honor veterans and fir -

Hundreds run in Raleigh honor veterans and first responders

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They're pounding the pavement for a purpose. Hundreds of people came out on Saturday to walk and run in honor of America's bravest.

The runners were made up of police officers, EMS crews, firefighters, military service members, first responders and people from the community.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower 5K was held at PNC Arena to raise money to help wounded veterans. The foundation's "Building for America's Bravest" program builds specially adapted homes for veterans who suffered catastrophic injuries.

The organization is building homes for Tom McRae and John Masson.

McRae was a Staff Sgt. in the Marines. His home will be built in Pender County. Masson was a Master Sgt. Green Beret Special Forces medic. His home will be built on a site he and his wife chose in Southern Pines.

Masson lost both legs and most of his left arm in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device.

After nearly two years in rehabilitation, Masson returned to Cumberland County, where he and his family live in a handicapped accessible apartment, but there are still daily frustrations.

"It's handicap accessible but not wheelchair accessible," Masson said. "So everything's pretty much up high. I have to reach for it, get on my nubs, and some things are even out of reach."

Those difficulties are just some of the reasons the Tunnel to Towers Foundation builds homes for veterans such as Masson and McRae. The foundation adapts home plans for the wounded veterans so that doors are large enough for wheelchairs and so there are ramps at exterior doors – making it possible to enter and exit without hassle. Kitchen counters are built lower and upper cabinets descend to be in reach from a wheelchair.

"You can roll in showers with your wheelchair. The toilets that they have, the seat come up because there are sensors," Masson explained.

Those features are part of an overall "smart home" design that includes many adaptable elements, some of which can be controlled from a computer tablet.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.


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