LEAWOOD, Kan. — Garrett Haskin has to turn sideways to fit through the bathroom door with his walker, and grabbing a towel off the towel bar requires an athletic maneuver that can make his mom nervous.
“He has had spinal cord surgery, brain surgery, surgery on his legs, knees, ankles,” Garrett’s mom Nanette said. “It makes it really hard to get in there to use the facilities.”
In fact, the 13-year-old has had six surgeries just in the last three years. Each year, the main bathroom in his family’s Leawood home becomes more difficult to maneuver — because it’s too narrow to accommodate his wheelchair or walker and the plumbing is leaking.
“We got some quotes to get it fixed, and it ended up being more than we could afford at the time,” Nanette Haskin said.
This family of four has been making do, sharing the small bathroom in the master bedroom and hoping one day when medical expenses haven’t zapped their budget they’ll be able to renovate the main bathroom.
“You do what you’ve got to do, right?” Haskin said, citing the universal refrain of every family raising a child with special needs.
But as kids with disabilities grow up, making do becomes a struggle because parents can no longer pick them up to carry them into a bathroom not designed for their wheelchair or walker.
It’s exactly because of families like the Haskins that Schloegel Design and Remodel of Kansas City started the Big Splash Custom Bath Giveaway. Every year for the last eight years, one family (nominated by a medical professional) wins a bathroom remodel.
Haskin said she’ll never forget hearing that her family was this year’s winner.
“It was just a couple of days before Thanksgiving,” she said, her voice breaking. “It was just like this. I could barely speak because it’s going to be so life changing for him and for all of us.”
In January, a team from Schloegel descended on the Haskin home, tearing out the old bathroom and starting the transformation. Lead carpenter Ben Bass even gave a very curious Garrett some hands-on training in carpentry, drywall and tiling.
By early February the bathroom was finished, and it was time for the big reveal. In gray and white with a marble-like tile, the sleek look had Nanette amazed.
“I was expecting something functional, but I had no idea it would be this beautiful,” she said.
“By re-configuring it, we made it a more usable space, including a zero-entry shower to be able to get in,” said Chris Peterson of Schloegel.
Before FOX4 arrived, Garrett had already given the bathroom a full work out — including giving himself a shower completely on his own — much to his mom’s amazement.
“There was no hollering for mom,” she said. “I never heard him say, ‘No I can’t do this.'”
“I think I just sat on the other side (of the door) really just tearing up because I was like ‘thank you God,'” she said.
Schloegel said there were so many deserving nominees — and so many of their vendors and subcontractors were willing to donate labor and supplies — that they were also able to remodel the bathrooms of two families who were the runners-up in the contest.