Former University of Nebraska football player Budge Porter and his family got the keys to a new, barrier-free, wheelchair-accessible home on Thursday.
Porter was paralyzed during spring practice in 1976. He worked as a stockbroker until he had to retire because of his health. The family had to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and lost their home. They had been living in an apartment.
A small group of friends launched the Budge Porter Project to raise money to build the new, ranch-style home near Champions Run golf course. It has three bedrooms and about 2,300 square feet on the main floor. It also has a kitchen and dinette area, an outdoor therapeutic pool, a basement and an elevator.
Porter said he feels extremely blessed that the community would reach out to him even though he hasn't been a Husker football player for 36 years.
“With the support of my family, friends and community, I think I'm one of the richest guys around,” Porter said on Wednesday, the day before he took ownership.
The home was not a total gift. Porter and his family are paying a modest mortgage.
Brad Brown of Archistructure, the home's designer and builder, said the experience has been heartwarming.
Subcontractors and local suppliers drastically discounted or donated materials, so it's difficult to put a price on the home, he said. He estimates the cost would have been about $300,000 with the accessibility features.
“People don't know that in his old home, Budge was never able to put his kids to sleep because their rooms were on the second floor,” Brown said. “In this home, there isn't an inch he doesn't have access to.”
A friend of Porter's, Steve Reeder, donated the home's lot. Another friend, Sam Marchese, helped secure a construction loan.
“For someone like Budge, lifetime expenses can range from $3.5 (million) to $4 million, and for most of his life, Budge has taken on these costs himself,” Brown said. “But now he's tapped out. He's such an incredible and positive person and his family is so deserving, it was time to do our part.”
The home at 13522 Corby St. will be open for public tours today, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. for a $5 donation.
You also can donate to the home fund at any area Omaha State Bank or on the website budgeporter.com.
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