Wounded soldier will benefit from yard sale

A new handicapped-accessible apartment being built by volunteers for critically wounded Army Pfc. Cody Smith in his childhood home in Ruch will have brand-new furnishings, thanks to a two-day yard sale planned for this weekend.

The yard sale to raise funds for the furnishings will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26, at 50 Upper Applegate Road, the home of Chris and Vicki Smith, Cody's parents.

"We've gotten lots and lots of donations for the yard sale from the community — lots of sporting goods, camping gear, a big variety of very nice stuff," said his aunt, Becky Badger, the event's organizer.

"We will be using the money raised from the yard sale for personal items for Cody's apartment," she said. "We want to get him a new bed, a TV, whatever he needs for the apartment."

More than a dozen local businesses and dozens of volunteers are helping to build the studio apartment with wheelchair access and other amenities. Smith, 20, was paralyzed in the lower extremities when he was hit in the back by a rifle bullet in Afghanistan. A soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, he was shot on Feb. 17.

The insurgent attack on his unit came during Operation Northern Avalanche in Kunar Province in northern Afghanistan. The division is based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

He is currently at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., where he has been undergoing physical therapy and other medical treatment for the past two months.

A 2009 graduate of South Medford High School, where he was an all-conference right guard during his senior year, the soldier grew up in a classic Craftsman-style house in Ruch built just prior to World War I. When friends learned the Smiths planned to expand the house to make it accessible for their son, they quickly organized the volunteer effort in late May.

Army veteran Rush Behnke, a Medford building contractor helping organize the effort, estimated the donated work and materials will be worth more than $100,000 when it's done. He expects the work to be wrapped up in about two weeks.

An account for those wishing to contribute to the building effort has been established at all branches of South Valley Bank.

Meanwhile, the wounded soldier is looking forward to coming home when he is able, his aunt said.

"I talked to him a few days ago, and he is ready to come home," she said. "He has a great attitude."

The Smith family appreciates the support of people and businesses from throughout Jackson County, she said.

"He has had so much community support — we are so amazed how many have stepped forward to help," she said.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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