MIDDLETOWN, New York (WABC) -- A 18-year-old girl is getting a new home, designed for her needs, after a horrific crash in the Bronx killed her stepmother and left the young girl paralyzed five years ago.
You would never know from her smile just how much 18-year-old Sky Mendoza has overcome. Her strength and determination has inspired a community.
In November 2018, Mendoza was involved in a crash on the Major Deegan Expressway that killed her stepmother Jennifer Parisella who was pregnant.
Mendoza was critically injured, paralyzed from the neck down and spent 18 months in a rehab facility. A setback last year impacted her ability to communicate.
"It's been three years and it's been a struggle, to finally say we're breaking ground is amazing," Sky's father Orlando Mendoza said.
There was a breaking ground on Broad Street Wednesday. That's where the city of Middletown donated a plot of land where a fully accessible home will be built.
"People like to do other things for people and in this case when you know the story, you really want to reach out and do something," Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano said.
The Mendozas' current apartment is cramped, making it difficult to maneuver Sky Mendoza's wheelchair.
"Just all around it would be a lot better for her as far as her well being, being able to move around and be more involved is something that she's looking forward to," Orlando Mendoza said.
Sky Mendoza's boss spearheaded the Build a Home for Sky effort, teaming up with the Spring Lake Toys Foundation.
The non-profit organization has enlisted 25 businesses to donate labor and materials. Fundraising will cover the rest of the $400,000 project.
"For somebody of that age to have to go through that type of ordeal, it's the last the we could do to pull together as a community," Satin Fine Foods owner Kevin O'Reilly said.
"Sky's name is appropriate for her, she lights up the sky, her smile is brilliant, her eyes are beautiful and she really lights up the sky," said Paulette Pera Laurenzi of Spring Lake Toys Foundation.
The ceremonial shovels are already in the ground and construction begins within the week.
The goal is to have Sky Mendoza and her family in their home by Christmas.