LONDONDERRY — Yesterday was significant for 9-year-old Bella Tucker and her family.
The South Londonderry Elementary School student was transferred from Boston's Children's Hospital to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, also in Boston, to begin the second phase of her road to recovery.
While Bella was settling into her new surroundings, a team of designers and construction specialists were adding the last truss to a 2,500-square-foot addition to the family's Lantern Lane home.
The large addition, including all materials and labor, is being donated by a number of local contractors and businesses.
A topping-off ceremony was held at the house yesterday with neighbors and friends present.
"When the last piece of a structure is put in place, builders add a Christmas tree," said Tony Nigro of Suffolk Construction Company.
"This is a little like a Charlie Brown tree though. And we also add a U.S. flag and all the good luck we can give as we pass this milestone and Bella passes one, too, with her move to Spaulding."
Bella has been hospitalized since April 5 when a life-threatening illness, streptococcus pneumonia sepsis, resulted in a quadruple amputation. The Londonderry community quickly responded by setting up a fund at South School to help with Bella's mounting medical bills — and to help with needed renovations to the home upon her return.
Friends and neighbors Tammy Kozlowski and Lisa and Derek Felix began planning for a ramp. But, because of the way the house is graded, a ramp would not be possible.
The effort snowballed from there.
Jen Hamwey, a civil engineer from Windham, Mike Guilmet of Allen and Major Associates Inc., CUBE 3 Studio Architects and Nigro of Suffolk Construction all jumped on board the project.
Nigro sought assistance from the Berry Fund, a division of Suffolk. The town's planning department helped the team with permits.
The addition will have a ground-floor garage, indoor elevator and two levels of living space for Bella.
"We can't tell you how much we appreciate every last ounce, every drop of sweat that is going into this," Bella's stepfather Peter Roarty said to the team.
Gov. John Lynch stopped by to see the progress and thank the team. Roarty said that Bella's spirits are good even though she is sad to be leaving her friends and staff at Children's Hospital.
For more information on construction updates and a list of donating vendors and materials still needed, visit bellatucker.org.