February 07, 2006

Bringing Eddie home
Donations pour in for injured Marine

By Paul Brooks
Times Herald-Record
pbrooks@th-record.com

Ellenville - Contractors could break ground on the addition to Marine Sgt. Eddie Ryan's house in a matter of weeks.

Donations of money and assistance have poured in during the past few weeks. Builders, workers, suppliers and designers have stepped up. Friends and even complete strangers have contributed $15,000 to $20,000.

Ryan was on sniper duty in Iraq in April when two bullets hit him in head, one to the brain and the other in the jaw. Doctors thought he would not live. He has done that, and more. Doctors have praised Ryan's progress in rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital in Rockland County.

The problem is that when it's time to leave the hospital, the Ryans' home near Ellenville can't accommodate the wounded Marine sniper and his wheelchair. The halls are too narrow for him to get to his bedroom, and the bathroom doesn't meet his needs, either.

Ryan's story has attracted national attention. The CBS station in New York City has picked up Ryan's story and will likely air it this week. Military Web bloggers have spread word of Eddie's plight across the Internet.

The renovations come with a price tag of $90,000 to $100,000 - money the family didn't have and expenses the government doesn't cover.

But the mid-Hudson takes care of its own.

Here are some examples: Home Depot stores in Monroe and Middletown have offered to provide supplies. So has the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Monroe. The Design Group of Central Valley has done the design and plans. Rich Rowley of Rowley Lumber has donated $500 so far. Kids at the Chapel Field Christian school collected $2,000. Others have stepped up. A man from out of town donated $5,000 and says his organization is donating $40,000.

Contractors Ed Hodas and Pat Hayes are friends of the Ryan family. Hodas said construction could start in a couple of weeks and finish in about three months. The question remains whether Ryan will have to leave Helen Hayes before the addition is done.

The family is forging ahead.

"With all the people helping out and donating time," said Eddie's dad, Chris Ryan, "we are good to go."

This article appeared in The Times Herald-Record

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