BELMAR, NJ — Each year, Team Shamrock holds its fundraising kickoff during the Belmar/Lake Como St. Patrick’s Day Parade, where members gather in the upstairs studio on Main Street of photographer Stephen Lacko.

Not only did the group once again enjoy one of the best views of the March 3 parade, it celebrated another major milestone — raising some $500,000 to build a “smart home” in Howell for local veteran Scott Nokes, who lost his legs and eyesight after developing an infection during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

In the next several weeks, ground is expected to be broken on the home, to be located on White Street and tailored-made to meet Marine Cpl. Nokes’ needs.

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“We are waiting for two to three more approvals. Once ground is broken, it’s six-month process to build and Scott should be in his home by the fall,” said Kathy Cunningham, who founded Team Shamrock in honor of her late brother, Don Robertson Jr., who lost his life in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Since then, Team Shamrock — now more than 400 members strong — has raised a total of some $1 million to build two technologically advanced “smart homes” for catastrophically injured service members through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Nokes’ home will be the second built mortgage free through the generosity of Team Shamrock’s members and supporters, and the group’s first in New Jersey — to be constructed on the two-acre parcel in Howell by Osprey-Martin Builders.

Cunningham expressed her appreciation to William Connellan and Greg Heine, partners in the Wall-based home construction company, pointing out that Connellan is a former first-responder who spent time during the recovery effort at Ground Zero.

“We’ve also gotten a lot of people who will be donating their time and materials,” said the Spring Lake resident.

Cunningham also thanked Steve Lacko and his wife, Kathleen, for “generously opening up their studio and welcoming everyone” for the St. Patrick’s parade day fundraiser, where they sold hats T-shirts and other items to benefit the home-building effort.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Team Shamrock will embark on its annual trek to New York City for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk on September 29. The memorial run was created to retrace the final steps of Siller, a New York City firefighter ,who lost his life on 9/11 after strapping on his gear and running through the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly known as the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel) to the twin towers.

For updates on its events and other news, visit the Team Shamrock Facebook page.

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