By Taylor Likens
On Saturday, Ampegy, a new division of Spark Energy LP, hosted a gathering at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott to recognize 23-year-old Pfc Hunter Levine. Speakers talked about honor, freedom and sacrifice, concepts Levine knows all about.
During Levine’s 2008 service in Iraq, an armor piercing explosive device struck his vehicle, leaving him blind. Despite his severe injuries, Levine drove out of danger and survived. On Saturday, he stood by as the audience applauded him for his courage. Although blind, and scarred physically and psychologically from his injuries and the several surgeries that followed, he smiled.
Currently residing in his parents’ home in The Woodlands, Levine is surprisingly independent. Without attending one day of rehab, he takes care of himself in a way he describes as “trial and error,” and when he needs to leave home, he simply calls a taxi service. Levine sees himself enrolling in college, just as he had three years ago, and then heading out undaunted into working society, marriage, and perhaps children.
When the introductions were finished, Levine was surprised with a check for $10,000, the first step in a $100,000 project to build the wounded soldier a new home. His humility and unchanged spirit impressed everyone in attendance.
Levine later joked as he looked back on his surprise.
“I didn’t know I’d be getting a check… I thought it was a charity event to help other soldiers worse off than me,” he said. “I was definitely surprised- But for a blind person it’s not that hard…”
Of course, it is not just any home, but a house custom-designed for Levine and his visual impairment. By November, the hero will have a home of his own.
Many teamed up to thank Levine for his service. The property the house is to be built on was donated to the program by The Woodlands Development Company. Spark Energy announced they would pay for a year of electricity, and the state has exempted him from property taxes. Levine will pay only is only $300 out-of-pocket a month for mortgage.
Levine is not the only of our injured veterans receiving this gift. Helpingahero.org, a Houston based non-profit organization, has built 30 homes and counting. These projects include homes for the blind, amputees, and those who are paralyzed. Anyone wishing to donate may visit the Helpingahero.org homepage.