Story: Sarah Kinser |
Diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four, Job McCully of Bigelow survived chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a bone marrow transplant before starting elementary school. Though the treatments saved his life, they also severely damaged his fragile lungs, and in February 2007, Job’s condition rapidly deteriorated when he was diagnosed with a fungal lung infection. The likely source: Job’s own home.
His mother Tina explains that the family’s 50-year-old house was plagued by mold and mildew. “When the house was constructed, they built it into the hillside, but they weren’t concerned with drainage,” she says. “Water was running down the hill and sitting under the house.” Amid worries over Job’s critical condition, which they learned would require a lung transplant and an extended hospital stay, the McCullys now had to find a safe home for their son.
Fans of the ABC television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the McCullys’ friends were convinced that they could get them selected for the home renovation show. “They got everybody to send in letters within ten days,” Tina says. “We later learned that their volume of mail actually shut down ABC’s mailroom.”
The network contacted homebuilder Jack Wilson of Woodhaven Homes, and the experienced builder, whose past projects include the Country Club of Arkansas and Majestic Pointe in Maumelle, didn’t shy away from the fast, large-scale project. “We had approximately 30 days from the time they contacted us to be ready to build,” he says. “Within a matter of hours, we had ABC people at our business helping us with strategy and getting us the information we needed to be able to move forward.”
On a morning in mid-August 2008, the McCullys’ prayers were answered as they were greeted by a team of volunteers, contractors, builders and camera crews outside their home ready to work. “You have all this hope that it’s going to happen, but you just don’t know for sure until the work crews arrive,” Tina says. The build week was a whirlwind of activity, and while the McCullys received a much-needed vacation in California, crews worked around the clock to demolish their old home, construct a new foundation on their property and build a completely new house from the ground up. “We actually built the home in 98 hours,” Jack says. “We had never done anything similar to that before, and we found out that anything is possible if you get the right people together.”
The most remarkable part of the process, apart from the sheer speed with which the home was constructed, was the generosity of the vendors and volunteers who participated in the project. “Probably 80 to 85 percent of the building materials were donated by local people,” Jack says. “We had people lining up to participate. I’ve never seen as many people step forward and be a part of something. It was really heartwarming to watch.” Arkansas-based retailers like I.O. Metro, Cynthia East Fabrics, National Home Centers, Angelfish Studios and a host of others gave freely of their time and supplies.
The home itself, which Jack describes as an eclectic re-interpretation of the French country style, features an open floor plan perfect for a family with young children, because the kitchen is open to the great room with areas for family seating, a dining table and an office. “It seems like we’re together more as a family,” Tina says. The custom-designed bedrooms created for Job and his sister Nicole are testaments to the personalization and attention to detail from the crews.
Job’s pirate-themed getaway is constructed like the deck of a ship, complete with a fiber-optic ceiling to resemble a starry sky above the ocean. Six 32-inch, flat-screen televisions line the walls and play a specially designed video program, making the screens appear to be portholes overlooking the ocean on one side and the shoreline on the other. “I’ll never forget the look on Job’s face when they came home, and he got to see his house,” said Jack. “From age four to 10, he spent most of his time in the hospital, and it’s neat to see him have his own space.” Woodhaven Homes has set up a fund to benefit the McCully family. To make a donation, visit any branch of Community Bank, First State Bank or Twin City Bank.
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