By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
Ballwin – At the top of the steep hill, within view of the Ballwin Police Department, Officer Mike Flamion will soon be able to enjoy a life of self-sufficiency in a new, fully adaptive smart home being built with community support and the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Officer Flamion, 32, a Ballwin Police Officer, was left paralyzed from the neck down in July during what he thought was a routine traffic stop. Officer Flamion was shot in the back as he was returning to his car.
After a long, determined road of hospitalizations and months in rehab, Flamion and his wife Sarah recently smiled on the sunny hillside, and sometimes cried and looked in each other’s eyes, as the community held a groundbreaking for their new fully accessible smart home and unveiled a rendition of the home for the first time.
Since the shooting, Sarah has been by his side, relocating to Colorado during his rehabilitation. Flamion said his wife has to feed him, dress him and do everything for him.
“With this house, I can give Sara a break,” Flamion said. “The support I have had has been absolutely incredible. I appreciate everything.”
DEPARTMENT AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT
It hasn’t been easy for him, Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott said, but everyone in the Department and community has stood behind him.
“The property meant for the Flamion family is within blocks of the Police Department,” Scott said. “Mike is our brother. We will never allow our brother to stand alone. You are a true American policeman, the internal stabilizer of this democracy.”
The house is expected to be completed in fall, at an estimated cost of $500,000 to $1 million. Shubert Designs will provide furnishings and decor for the Flamion’s home.
The Gary Sinise Foundation, founded by actor Gary Sinise, decided to help Officer Flamion and his wife, Sara, when local businessman and board member Jim Shubert brought it to the Foundation’s attention. Shubert, the owner of Shubert Designs, said he has never seen a community rally around an officer as much as Ballwin has.
“The Sinise Foundation has always supported severely wounded vets, but this is the first time we are building a home for a first responder,” said Judy Otter, executive director of the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Other local and national companies that have stepped up to support Flamion include North American Van Lines, the National Wood Flooring Association, Associated General Contractors of America, the St. Louis Cardinals, Panera Bread Company, Crestside Ballwin Heating and Cooling and Shubert Design Furniture, all of which are existing partners of Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program.
Local citizens have also rallied support for Officer Flamion raising about $400,000 for his ongoing care through a GoFundMe campaign.