BELTON, Mo. -- “Can you throw to Momma?”
Two-year-old Joseph Coots tossed the basketball to his mom Jennifer, flashing a huge grin.
Coots is starting to show as much passion for sports as his 17-year-old brother Jonathan, who is manager and videographer for Belton High School’s football team.
The brothers also share another trait: They both have spina bifida. Their backs didn’t completely close when they were in the womb. It's a progressive condition that's left them unable to walk without pain. Both boys use wheelchairs.
“I think it was a 4 percent chance we would have a second child with spina bifida,” said Jennifer Coots, a busy mom of four who seems to take it all in stride.
“I just rely on my faith. I know that today may be bad, but tomorrow will be better.”
The day Fox 4 visited, life was indeed getting better in the Coots’ Belton home. The family is the sixth annual winner of the Schloegel Design Remodel Big Splash Customer Bath Giveaway.
Every year, Schloegel designs and remodels a bathroom to fit the needs of a special needs child. The Coots learned they were the winning family last month.
“When I called my husband, I was pretty teary,” Jennifer Coots said. “I told him, ‘I think we won the bathroom.’"
Winning is often emotional for families because they know how much easier these bathrooms will make their lives.
In the Coots home, the old bathroom has multiple challenges. The door is too narrow to allow a wheelchair inside. Plus, getting inside the tub to take a shower is a challenge for someone not steady on their feet.
“I have heard him fall before,” Jennifer Coots said, referring to Jonathan, who like every teenager prefers to use the bathroom on his own. “If we had more grab bars to hold onto, it would be easier for him to keep his balance.”
A Schloegel crew is already at work transforming the bathroom door into a larger pocket door that will allow easy access for anyone in a wheelchair. Plus, the tub will disappear and be replaced by a shower you can roll right into.
Schloegel co-owner Chris Peterson said the Big Splash Giveaway is one of the best parts of his job. He especially enjoys meeting the families, and Jennifer Coots was no exception.
“It's inspiring to hear her vigor for life,” Peterson said. “Nothing gets her down. You spend 15 minutes with her, and you hear that.”
Jennifer Coots said she’s blessed. If you doubt that, just check out what’s happening to her bathroom.
Fox 4 will be back next month to show you the amazing transformation.