Wendy Grossman and Natasha Stoynoff
May 11, 2009 12:00 PM

Carol Armstrong was the type of neighbor who drove friends to church and mowed lawns for the elderly in Charleston, S.C. But in 2002 the married mother of two boys, Jaime, now 16, and Alexander, now 11, was brutally beaten during a robbery that left her brain-damaged and partially paralyzed. Unable to maneuver her wheelchair through her house’s narrow hallways, Carol, 44, was often confined to the living room when she was alone. “When one of my boys was sick in his room, I wasn’t able to help him,” she recalls.

After the local paper ran her story in 2006, painters, designers and builders from the local home-builders association decided to build her a new home with wheelchair ramps and new appliances; she moved into the house in January. Now she can make French toast and make sure her boys are doing their homework. Says Carol, whose husband, James, 40, an electrical engineer, used to carry her to other rooms: “My life is totally different now.”

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