When Dylan Thompson, a Duchenne muscular dystrophy patient, shouted "Let's get it done," the claw of a backhoe smashed through the roof of his Centerport home, sending concrete dust into the air.
The demolition that started Monday morning is expected to culminate in a new handicapped-accessible home in about six months for Thompson, 19, and his mother, Gloria Thompson. Their larger, 1,200-square-foot ranch house will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, extra-wide hallways, level floors and a full basement.
"I'm definitely really excited and happy that my house is going to be better after this," Dylan Thompson said as he watched the backhoe in action.
The foundation, along with Dylan's Footprint, an organization that brings attention to Duchenne MS, has been raising money for the new house. John Williams, president of Building Hope for Long Island, said Monday was the start of the three- to five-day demolition of the Thompsons' concrete-and-wood home built in the late 1940s. Within six months he expects the home to be built, using donated material and labor, and additional donations of about $100,000.
"This is special and the feel-good part of life," Phil DeBlasio, a founding member of Building Hope for Long Island, said. "We feel fortunate to be able to help somebody."
Gloria Thompson said it was bittersweet watching the destruction of the home she moved into 22 years ago.
"So many memories, good and bad," she said. "I had planned to hide out at a neighbor's house but I was drawn to come; we'll make new memories. I'm so happy for Dylan."
She thanked the many donors and volunteers for their time and help on the new home and said she hoped the attention it was receiving would bring more attention to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which she said primarily affects boys.
"It's an illness under the umbrella of muscular dystrophy," she said. "It's the worst illness within dystrophy; I want people to understand and help with research."
While Dylan Thompson, who uses a wheelchair, said he is looking forward to getting the new house because of all the conveniences it will offer him, such as more space to move around and independence, he also is excited about his decorating options.
"My room is going to be green and white," he said. "I'm a Jets fan."