Burlington Builds Home From The Heart

BURLINGTON, Kan. (WIBW) - Each cut of the saw and pound of a nail that rings through the air of a neighborhood on Burlington's west side brings Loran Martin a step closer to a dream.

"It's way exciting," Loran proclaims as she surveys the bare wall studs surrounding her on the fresh foundation. "I can't believe it's happening!"

Like many young women, Loran loves the independence of living on her own. But unlike many young women, she faces an added challenge - Loran is living with Friedreich's ataxia, a form of muscular dystrophy. As it has weakened her body, she uses a walker or a wheelchair to get around. One day, she may need the chair more often.

As her condition has progressed, Loran says she's become increasingly aware that she needs a house that works for her. She and her family always said perhaps one day when the won the lottery.

Enter Loran's jackpot.

A few years back, some of her parents' fellow teachers at Burlington High School approached Loran's father, Tim, about starting fundraisers to build Loran a house. Tim said it was amazing, since, for years, Loran and her family organized a golf tournament to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and, now, the community was wanting to chip in even more to do something specifically for Loran.

Then, about four months ago, local construction company owner Stephen Freeman spoke with Tim and says he told him, "Let's get this done."

Freeman used his construction company to take community fundraising efforts to the next level. He is donating lumber and labor and he talked to his suppliers, who are pitching in, too. Freeman says word got out from there. Even Wednesday, as volunteers scurried around the construction site, a water heat was wheeled in, courtesy the Rural Electric Coop.

"It's unbelievable how much they're giving, this community," Freeman said.

They're giving not just money, but time.

Construction launched this week with dozens of community members, including many of those teachers, shunning the sweat to build from the heart.

Burlington girls basketball coach and shop teacher Doug Stewart says it's "awesome" to see so many people chipping in. He says the Martins are simply good people. Stewart says he and Tim have assisted each other in the coaching ranks over the years and he knows that if he ever needed something, Tim wouldn't hesitate.

Everything in the home is specifically designed to meet Loran's needs into the future, from wider doorways and lower countertops to a roll-in shower and roll-under stovetop. The goal was to make it completely accessible. Tim says it will give the family great peace of mind.

It's peace of mind paid for through the kindness of a community. Freeman says doing something he feels good about is all the payment he needs.

"Loran needs this bad. I'm going to do it for her. It's that simple," he said.

Loran says his efforts and those of everyone in the community mean the world to her.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone," she said.

Loran should be able to move in in a couple months.

People who'd like to help may send contributions to "Home from the Heart," care of Citizen's State Bank, 428 Neosho, Burlington, KS 66839.

Freeman says his ultimate goal is to inspire contractors and volunteers to launch similar efforts for people in their own communities.


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