Community helps family receive free home modifications for son with spina bifida

Posted at 9:55 PM, Sep 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-14 22:25:38-04

STANTON, Mich.-- A family in Montcalm County is getting some much-needed help from the community to help give their son a more normal life.

The Kooistra family spoke first to FOX 17 in July, where we met 8-year-old Zade who was born with spina bifida. It's left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The family was asking for help to make their home more adaptive for Zade.

They got the help they need thanks to one company who saw the story on FOX 17 and volunteered to do the work free of charge.

Zade is known for his bright smile and positive attitude. Now, that smile is even bigger.

"We set out to raise money to make our home more accessible for Zade," said Shannan Kooistra, Zade's mom. "We raised $10,245 via our Facebook fundraiser and then we had our yard sale which also raised money, so we raised a total of $12,000.”

The Kooistra family hoped to raise money to make their home adaptive to Zade’s wheelchair, meaning they wouldn’t have to carry him in and out of the house or help him bathe and use the bathroom.

"I don’t want mom and dad to carry me. I just want to wheel into the house and just do everything," said Zade.

"This is what we specialize in," said Craig Baker, owner of Accessible Home Design. Baker saw Zade’s story on FOX 17 and decided to help.

"I just kind of felt the pull to help them out," said Baker.

"You want it to last and withstand a wheelchair," said designer Laura McCranner.

Baker, along with designer Laura McCranner, have been coming up with a design plan for the Kooistra's and have spent the last week hard at work.

"It's a huge blessing and it’s been completely overwhelming at the same time for what this will do for Zade," said Shannan Kooistra.

In about two weeks, there will be a new, wider entrance to their home complete with a wheelchair ramp and two bathrooms for Zade to use independently. The Kooistra’s put all the money they raised towards supplies, but Baker, along with other volunteers, are doing the labor free of charge.

"He’ll be 100% independent from the driveway in," said Baker.

"I'm really excited because I just want to do it all by myself and no mom and dad to just help me, I just want to do it," said Zade Kooistra. "I just want to do it”

Baker says there aren’t that many resources out there for families like the Kooistra’s in Michigan and oftentimes families are left to cover any expenses for home modifications on their own.

This project for Zade would easily cost around $100,000 dollars if they had to pay out of pocket.