After his Humvee went over a bomb in Afghanistan in 2004, Army Spc. Nick Mapson's doctors didn't think he would survive. They saw the third-degree burns on his face, arms and hands -- among other injuries -- and told his parents to come to his hospital in Germany to say their goodbyes.
But the Sugar Grove man did survive. And he found out Thursday he and his family are the recipients of a mortgage-free home in Newport Cove Subdivision on the Chain O' Lakes, built specifically for a disabled veteran.
An anonymous donor contributed more than $200,000 -- about half the cost of the 1,900-square-foot ranch -- teaming up with developer Susanne Tauke, of New American Homes Inc.
Tauke said the planned community has space for 67 homes, but only 17 families have moved in since it opened in 2007.
"This has been just extremely gratifying because it's a way to take a lousy market and turn it into something positive," Tauke said.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago got involved from the beginning, finding members to donate materials and labor to contribute to the project.
Rita Unzner, executive director of HBAGC, said this home is just the first in what she hopes can become a streamlined process. Unzner reached out to every veterans organization in the region looking for deserving vets in need of the accessible home.
Mapson's injuries include hearing loss, back-disc bulging, herniation and painful effects of the burns.
"It'll be an ongoing battle probably for the rest of my life," Mapson said.
But part of the reason Mapson was chosen for the home is because of his positive outlook on his future. He said he is ready to put the bad behind him and move forward.
Mapson just got cleared to go back to work and he said a new house in a new community will give him the opportunity for a fresh start. He is considering a career in law enforcement or starting an automotive business.
His wife Jackie is staying home with their 1-year-old son Jaden, but will look for work in elementary education one day.
The ceremony surprising Mapson with news of the home took place during the Home Builders Association's golf outing at The Highlands of Elgin. Sky divers carrying United States flags floated to the ground to start the event, when Mapson thought he was invited as just the next phase of the selection process.
He and his wife, in tears, hugged representatives of the various organizations that contributed to the home after the announcement.
"The number of vendors who have donated, subcontractors who have helped out, it's amazing," Tauke said. "People are good."
The Mapsons will get the keys to their new home Aug. 18.