Paralyzed soldier surprised at Texans game

HOUSTON — In December of 2010, U.S. Army Cpl. Christopher Sullivan was injured in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Last Christmas, Sullivan returned to his San Bernardino, Calif. home to continue recovering from his injuries. Despite all he had been through, Sullivan was in for much more.

At his homecoming party, his brother got into a fight. Christopher Sullivan tried to break it up.
“Someone told me my brother was going to be shot,” he said. “Next think I know I’m waking up in the hospital with somebody sticking a tube down my throat.”

Sullivan had been shot in the neck at his own homecoming party. He’s paralyzed from the neck down.

On Sunday at Reliant Stadium, Sullivan got his real homecoming. At halftime of the Houston Texans’ win over the Indianapolis Colts, Sullivan was brought out to be recognized for his service. And that’s when he got the surprise. An organization called Operation Finally Home was going to build him a new, mortgage-free home in League City, Texas, which is near Houston.

“It’s another good day,” said Sullivan, seated in a motorized wheelchair. “No more bad days. It’s a good change.”

Sullivan says he feels more pain here and there every day, but that’s actually a good sign. Doctors have told him he might be paralyzed for the rest of his life, but Sullivan says he can feel his fingers tingle sometimes.

“I’m never going to give up,” he said.

Operation Finally Home is a private organization dedicated to doing just this sort of thing for disabled veterans and widows of veterans. It was created by the Bay Area Builders association in 2005 and raises funds through corporate sponsorship, builder associations and other private donations of money and time.

Operation Finally Home operates in 11 states and has given away 50 homes.

“We see this on TV all the time, people know what’s happening,” said Operation Finally Home founder Dan Wallrath. “But to be personally involved in their lives every day, it’s such a blessing to see the attitudes in these young men. It’s incredible.”

A year after his injury, Sullivan is still trying to come to grips with it all.

“I’m not used to being this way,” he said. “I’ve always been active. It’s just hard still.”