BALLWIN, Mo. – A celebration was held Tuesday in Ballwin as police officer Mike Flamion and his wife, Sarah, got the keys to a new life. The couple was presented with a specially adapted smart home by the Gary Sinise Foundation and dozens of other sponsors.
Flamion's journey began with a paralyzing gunshot on July 8, 2016. He was shot in the neck during a traffic stop and will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Nearly a year-and-a-half later, Flamion reached the end of a long and challenging journey and was met with cheers from hundreds of supporters who gathered outside the home on Holloway Road.
“This is just the start of fixing everything that went wrong,” said longtime family friend Kelly Cowsert.
Surrounded by family, friends and former patrol mates, Mike and Sarah Flamion watched Tuesday as a huge American flag was pulled back to reveal their new home.
Equipped with voice automation, specialized appliances and a floorplan made to accommodate his power chair, the home will return to Mike some of the freedom and independence his injuries took away.
“I'm very pleased that he and Sarah are going to have this opportunity to continue their lives,” said Ballwin resident John Fox.
“This happening obviously is a tragedy. But it could also be the silver lining and a blessing for them,” added Steve Cowsert.
“We're just humbled by everything that everyone has done for us. Never in a million years would we have ever thought we'd have a home like this. and it's just amazing,” said a teary-eyed Sarah Flamion while standing in her new living room.
“From the bottom of my heart, thanks you guys. Thanks for giving me a little more of my life back,” added Mike Flamion.
The Flamions now begin a new journey through life. And they’ll have love and support from a community to see them through to the end.
“I'm just so proud of everyone for stepping up and understanding the dedication and service that mike provided our community and that we need to do back for him what he gave for us,” said Ballwin resident Katie Zaitz-Fink.
This isn't the first smart home built in the St. Louis area by the Gary Sinise Foundation. But it is the first built for a first responder, like Flamion.
United States Army Sergeant Legrand Strickland (Ret.) will be the next in our area to receive a smart home. Click here for his story and how to support the effort.