LONDONDERRY – A towering white crane swung over Bella Tucker's gray clapboard home yesterday, as a construction worker fitted into place the final truss on the home's addition.
It was symbolic moment, marking the completion of the highest point in the remodeling project, and the crowd of friends and volunteer workers below on the Tuckers' driveway broke into a wave of applause. The home makeover, a gift from business sponsors, will create a physical therapy suite for the 9-year-old quadruple amputee, whose battle with a pneumonia infection, streptococcus pneumonia sepsis, has drawn sympathy from far and wide.
Gov. John Lynch has even taken notice of the situation and formally dubbed Tucker's birthday on Aug. 12 Bella Tucker Day.
The home addition includes a full elevator system that will allow Tucker to move from the garage to the top floor of the home, when she eventually returns from the hospital.
Tucker's stepfather, Peter Roarty, said Tucker is currently at Children's Hospital in Boston. From there, she will move to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, also in Boston, then to Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. Roarty wasn't certain when she would return to home, but he expected Tucker will probably be back in town sometime in November, when the remodeling project is complete.
Roarty said the objective of the addition project was to enable Tucker to still move freely inside the house, even with her disability.
"That was our number one goal -- that she wasn't restricted from moving anywhere in the house," Roarty said.
Initially, the project was nothing more than a ramp that would have allowed Tucker to get into the house with greater ease, said Lisa Felix, a member of the volunteer building team for the project. But, as businesses swooped in to lend their time and money, the project mushroomed into a full remodeling of the house, she said.
Two businesses involved in the remodeling of the Lantern Lane home include Cube 3 Studio, an architectural firm based in Lawrence, Mass., and Suffolk Construction Company in Boston.