HOLT, Alabama -- Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa dedicated the first house built out of a partnership with Alabama football coach Nick Saban's Nick's Kids Fund and Project Team Up on 5th Street in Holt Thursday afternoon.
Bob and Dana Dowling and their two children Marilyn and Drew cut the ribbon on the front door on their new home with help from Saban and his wife Terry.
The Dowlings lost almost everything they owned when the April 27 tornado destroyed their mobile home in Brookwood. Since that time, Bob and Dana have lived with their children in an RV.
Now, the Dowlings will begin the process of moving into the house, located in an area of Holt that has just recently begun to see post-storm rebuilding.
"This is a house built truly though a labor of love," Bob Dowling said.
Dana Dowling praised volunteers for their hard work in the heat of the summer and spoke about the spark of motivation that UA student athletes contributed on the site. Seeing the effort of the workers made the house special to her, she said.
"This house is absolutely, totally perfect," she said. "No matter what you do, it's the most perfect house ever."
Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa executive director Bob Johnson presented a Golden Hammer Award to the Sabans for their dedication to helping storm victims.
Saban, who was presented a $400,000 contribution to Nick's Kids from Drummond Company at the dedication, said the donation would go to the Habitat project, which plans to build 13 homes, one for each of Alabama's football national championships.
"That's really one of our short-term goals, but the long-term goal is to help have an impact on this entire community so that we can restore some normal living for some of these people," Saban said.
Around 75 percent of the Crimson Tide football team has volunteered at the Habitat site over the past months. In July, four Kent State football players joined UA and Auburn students to work on the house, which consisted of little more than a frame with a roof at the time.
"We're just privileged and pleased that we're in a position that we can do something to serve others," Saban said.
Terry Saban thanked volunteers and donors for their support of the project.
"April 27th taught us that life is fragile, but that the human spirit is strong, and alive and well," she said. "I'm proud to be a part of this."
Before the Dowlings cut the ribbon, Johnson handed the family two Bibles, and College Hill Baptist Church pastor Kelvin Croom led the gathering in prayer.
Bob Dowling said his family is thankful and feels blessed. They plan to help their neighbors build back, he said, and he encouraged others to contribute.
"Hand in hand, we can rebuild Tuscaloosa and Alabama," he said. "It's up to people just like you sitting at home to do that."
Two other houses on the street that are part of the Habitat for Humanity and Nick's Kids Fund partnership are set for dedication over the next few weeks.
Nick's Kids Foundation