AURORA, Colo. – Ten-year-old Ethan loves showing off the Lego sets and cars in his room but getting to his room hasn’t always been easy. Seven years ago, he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease which is slowly weakening his muscles.
“I’ll never forget, seven years ago, sitting in Children’s Hospital and being told that, you know, your life’s gonna look different,” said his mom, Joy.
One of the biggest challenges they’ve faced is retrofitting their 40-year-old southeast Aurora home to make it more accessible to the wheelchair Ethan now needs to get around.
“Having an accessible sink, and an accessible shower, were really things that this home that was built in 1980s didn’t provide for us,” adds his dad, Nate.
The Home Builders Foundation stepped in to help the family. For more than 30 years, they’ve been helping families like Ethan by helping with remodeling projects at no or little cost to the families.
To help Ethan and his family, the Foundation asked for volunteers from the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver’s Professional Women in Building Council. In the end, about 90% of the work done on the family’s home was completed by women contractors, including Hayley Seldon, the general contractor for the job and the owner of the residential construction company Redwood Jane.
She said she came into the project knowing a lot of the specific requirements needed to make the home ADA compliant, but she learned a lot more about life in a wheelchair by talking to Ethan.
Boy with muscular dystrophy inspires home builders helping update his home for his wheelchair
“When I turn a corner, maybe because it’s difficult or when I lift my arm this way, this part can be difficult,” she recalled of her conversations. “So, can we move things a little this way? Or can we adjust them a little bit one way or the other? It’s been those things have been most enlightening.”
Selden and the crew widened doors and moved a closet to give more space to the bathroom Ethan uses. That bathroom now includes a roll under sink that includes a faucet that is both touch and motion censored.
And while the bathroom is great, Ethan said his favorite part of the remodel is the new flooring that runs throughout the house.
“You can go faster on it,” he said.
Words don’t really express the thankfulness Ethan and his family have for those who updated their home, but they’re happy to have met new friends along their journey.
“There’s a lot of value that comes from depending upon others,” said Nate. “Everybody needs help, at some point in life, or they need encouragement, they need care, they need love. We’re not alone in this journey with Ethan, which we’re so thankful for.”