Mom's promise to son honored by community volunteers

Army Sgt. Jose Pequeno wounded in Iraq in 2006

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - A Pasco County mother made a promise to her son nearly seven years ago. She says it was never a choice.

"We needed to do it. It was not even thought about, can we or would we?  It was 'We're going to do it,'" said Nellie Bagley.

Bagley's vow to care for her son, 37-year old Army Sergeant Jose Pequeno, has not been easy.  An insurgent's grenade in Iraq made sure of that.

"You find the strength. You find the strength," said Bagley.

Two purple hearts, 28 reconstructive surgeries and seven years of physical therapy later, her commitment to help her son improve has been validated, especially when doctors told her he'd never get better.

"He understands everything we're saying," she explained.

"The right hand is always ‘yes.'  The left hand is always ‘no.'  So I ask Jose, let's say I ask him, 'Jose are you hungry now?'  He will look at this hand for yes, or the left for no," she said.

Now she's getting some help.  Tampa Bay Home Depot crews and the Abilities Foundation mixed concrete, fixed flower beds and spruced-up Jose's and his mother's home.

"If we can lighten the burden at home, if we can make this a little more accessible, it just makes their lives easier," said Frank De Lucia, Abilities Foundation.

This mom says it was a never a choice to care for her son. She feels fortunate it was made for her.

"I thank God every day that I got him home, that he's here with me. I know many moms that their kids never came home," she said.

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