The Bella Tucker story began with a tragedy. In late April 2010, after suffering from a rare infection that inflicted severe tissue damage to her limbs, the 8-year-old gymnast and cheerleader had to undergo a quadruple amputation. But while Bella recovered at Children’s Hospital Boston, an ever-growing community of residents from her hometown of Londonderry, NH, banded together to build a massive addition to her family’s house to ease her transition home.
Every doorway on the 2,500-square-foot space was designed to accommodate her wheelchair, all sinks and counters were built at a lower height for easier access, and a ramp system and elevator were installed. The whole addition was built to hospitalgrade specifications: HEPA filtration, state-of-the art boilers, and generators that ensure the house will never lose power.
There were several Wentworth graduates among the mass of supporters. Jen (Medeiros) Hamwey, AEC ’92, CE ’93, got involved after reading about the need for volunteers in the newspaper. She called friend and Wentworth classmate Tony Nigro, AET ’90, a project executive at Boston-based Suffolk Construction, for help. Nigro recruited volunteers from Suffolk and reached out to The Berry Fund, Suffolk’s own non-profit organization. Mike Guilmet, BCS ’80, CE ’83, the managing partner at the engineering firm Allen & Major, also played an integral role, providing structural, survey, and septic design and landscape architecture for the project through his company. In all, Nigro says 28 Wentworth alumni helped on the build.
The reviews were glowing. “She calls it her handicap Barbie dream house,” says Hamwey. “That little girl is as strong and determined as anyone I’ve ever met,” says Guilmet in response. “I think it should be called Super Girl Barbie Dream House.” But even with the house complete, Bella still faces challenges. As a growing girl, she will need to change prosthetics frequently. Along with increased real estate taxes and medical expenses, it’s one of several new ongoing costs the family has to handle. “There is still so much need there,” says Hamwey, who directs those interested in helping out to www.bellatucker.org.
Throughout the ordeal, Bella has remained resilient. “She never stops smiling,” says Hamwey. “It’s an incredible inspiration.” —DAN MORRELL
Wentworth alumni join community effort to help girl
Posted in Alumni News, Spring 2011
Courtesy: Wentworth Institute of Technology