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‘Like winning the lottery’: life-changing renovation possible because of Pledge Day

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The Calgary Children’s Foundation’s annual Pledge Day is Friday, Dec. 2. Donations in years past have changed many lives in the community, including for one family that received a bathroom renovation.

“We found out we were going to get this reno around Christmastime, and it was the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received,” says Katherine Thomas-Brothers.

“It’s just not something we could have afforded.”

Her nine-year-old son George was born with a gene mutation that results in him using a wheelchair for mobility. His mother often carries him. As he’s grown, so too has his equipment.

“George weighs about 60 pounds now,” Thomas-Brothers says, adding that bath time was becoming downright dangerous.

“When he’s slippery and wet, he’s impossible to get out from ground level safely.”

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But redoing the bathroom simply wasn’t possible for the family to do on its own due to the “astronomical” cost of doing it properly.

But that all changed when Thomas-Brothers got a call from the organization ARK (Accessibility Renovations for Kids) and the contractor SHIFT, which specializes in these types of builds.

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“It was like winning the lottery,” she says.

“It’s very fulfilling because you get to see something from concept to completion,” explains ARK’s Sue Trefry.

Her organization applies for grants from the Calgary Children’s Foundation. She has never been turned down.

“You get to see how meaningful it is for the families.”

READ MORE: 770 CHQR gets into holiday spirit with 30th annual Pledge Day

ARK teamed up with SHIFT for the bathroom project. In a twist of fate, the bathroom reno was a re-visit for owner Griffin Simony.

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“I was actually out here a couple months or maybe a year before, talking with the family about these renovations, so it was really awesome to get to come back and complete the work for them,” Simony says with a grin.

Only this time, the work was all done for free, including all the tradespeople that donated their time.

“Honestly, in today’s market, (it would) probably run you into the mid-$20,000s to $30,000s,” Simony says regarding the estimated cost of building a zero-threshold shower and widening the doorways.

Today the bathroom is a sleek, modern design that suits the needs of the entire family. It also serves as a reminder that giving to Pledge Day truly makes an impact, Thomas-Brothers says.

“To give them that opportunity to just live a more dignified life and just be able to care for the child in a safe way, I mean, that’s huge. That’s an amazing gift.”

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Tune in to 770 CHQR on Dec. 2 or go online to the Calgary Children’s Foundation website for more information on how to donate.