In the wake of tragedy, it’s amazing to see what a community can accomplish. For Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) New Orleans/Bayou Chapter, working together to help a paralyzed football player live more comfortably showed that contractors often invest in their communities on a highly personal level.

In 2012, Devon Walker was playing for the Tulane University football team when an injury on the field left him paralyzed from the neck down. Wanting to help, a group of ABC member companies decided to build an addition to Walker’s home in Destrehan, La., to make ongoing care and rehabilitation easier on him and his family. In addition, they wanted to give Walker the ability to regain some normalcy with his own space, which they christened “Devon’s Den.”

The project began with the demolition of the garage, which opened up space for the volunteers to construct a new apartment for Walker with his own living space, bedroom, kitchenette, wheelchair-accessible bathroom and a single-car garage for his coveted Chevrolet Camaro.

More than 35 companies donated labor, materials, equipment and furnishings for the 1,000 square feet of new construction, which was completed in about seven months. ABC member companies that were involved included:

“ABC Bayou Chapter members like those that worked on the Devon’s Den project view community service as a responsibility—a responsibility for their company to look beyond the profit margin to support worthwhile projects while being innovative, to identify and strengthen long-term working relationships with local contractors and suppliers, and to promote awareness of the merit shop industry,” says ABC New Orleans/Bayou Chapter President Angela Latino-Geier.

With the new space ready, Walker was able to return home and continue his studies at Tulane University. In May 2014, Walker graduated with a degree in cellular and molecular biology. On the same day, he was signed to a one-day contract with the New Orleans Saints as a surprise and was recognized for his strength and inspiration to the community.

Donna Puglisi is public relations manager for Associated Builders and Contractors. For more information, email puglisi@abc.org.