A nine year-old Chatham girl who suffered a near-fatal stroke in September of last year will be coming home to a newly-renovated home thanks to the efforts of the Chatham-Kent Home Builders Association.
Kevin Owen, executive officer of the CKHBA said local builders have launched the “Renovation for Evelynn” project to widen hallways and doors, install a wheelchair ramp and make the home comfortable for Evelynn Nichols when she is released from hospital, tentatively in March.
Evelynn was found unconscious in her room Sept 5. She was rushed to hospital and flown to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital where she was diagnosed with a rare congenital defect, Owen said.
The defect caused a bleed in her head that resulted in extensive brain damage and a stroke.
She remained in a coma and on life support for several weeks. Her chance of survival was pegged at five per cent and the likelihood her being severely paralyzed, unable to speak and breathe without assistance was real.
Owen said Evelynn’s grandmother approached the association.
“Honestly, it’s not something we’ve generally done,” he said, “but the more I looked into it the more it seemed possible.”
Owen said the skills of the builders from “designing to dry walling, to flooring to painting” are exactly what the project requires.
“We don’t have everything finalized but we’re getting close,” he said. “The entire board is behind this.” Owen said Dave Ewald of Ewald Homes summed up the board’s feelings.
“One of the biggest concerns I have with my kids is how I am going to get them to baseball and I can’t even begin to imagine what Evelynn’s parents must be going through” Ewald said. “I am thrilled to see such support from this amazing group of guys, I have always been a proud member of CKHBA, however today I am beyond words.”
Owen said Evelynn has progressed further than they ever expected her too. She is getting better at controlled movement on her right side and increasingly there is movement on the left side.
Evelynn successfully ate a small amount of food for the first time after 3 months and will be trying soft solid food such as scrambled eggs next week. On Christmas morning Evelynn spoke for the first time since Sept. 5, 2015 when she said ‘momma’ and her speech is improving.
Evelynn has retained all her past memories, experiences, and ability to learn.
Evelynn will be working on her abilities for several more months at Holland Bloorview Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto.
The ChathamKent Home Builders Association is a not for profit organization that was chartered in Chatham over 50 years ago.
Membership is comprised mostly of local businesses related to the new home construction industry.
It has contributed in excess of over $400,000 to support local needs.
During its recent meeting, Scott Vandersluis of Bouma Builders was elected president.
The board also includes Vice President Dave Depencier of Depencier Builders, 2nd Vice President Jon Rumble of Rumble Homes, Treasurer Ed DeJonge of Ed DeJonge Construction, Secretary Gina Mancini of Union Gas, Directors Dave Ewald of Ewald Homes, Jeff Medeiros of Winmar, James McKeller of Oldershaw Builder Supply, Mike Dziedzic and Executive Officer Kevin Owen of Owen Flooring.