Tanner, Who Wishes
In December I'm going to Kamloops, B.C., to help renovate the home of a boy I've never met.
I found out about this boy through his aunt, Catherine Connors, who has been raising money to help her nephew, Tanner.
Tanner has Duchenne's muscular dystrophy*, which makes his muscles weaker and weaker as he grows older.
He's only 10, but he knows that kids with this genetic condition don't live very long. There is no treatment for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and it is 100% fatal.
So Tanner made a life list of his most important wishes - boy things, like riding on a train or being a cowboy for a day - but his biggest wish is to die at home instead of in a hospital.
Surely, that wish is possible.
Tanner needs round-the-clock care and most of that responsibility rides on the slender shoulders of his mother. His needs require a ton of energy and focus and at this point, Tanner's mum, Chrissie, is running on little more than adrenaline and love.
If we can convert Tanner's unfinished basement into a space suitable for a live-in caregiver, who can help monitor Tanner's condition (and relieve his mother's 24-hour vigilance), then Tanner's wish is very fulfillable.
It means we need to ask for donations - lumber, tools, air transport and hotel for family and volunteer crew members, storage bins, furniture, finishes, bathroom fixtures, flooring.
Daniel and I have offered to help with construction and to teach inexperienced volunteers how to use power tools, frame walls and hang sheetrock. And I also offered to pull together donations of supplies and equipment (yes I did - even though I've always been freakishly nervous about asking for anything; I'm over that).
So while we were out west last week, Daniel and I drove to Kamloops to meet Tanner and make plans with Catherine and Chrissie.
Tanner wasn't there. He'd been admitted to hospital that morning with signs of an infection. And although Chrissie and Catherine were making the best of Tanner's sudden hospitalization, their anxiety was palpable.
We cranked into planning mode, as humans do when they're holding the unknown at bay. We made lists. Daniel took pictures of the basement for reference and planning.
I also found out from Catherine and Chrissie that several wish-building heroes have already stepped forward, notably Naomi, the mother of one of Tanner's classmates, who offered to measure and draft the proposed changes to the basement using her computer design skills. And Naomi's family, who owns the truss-building company in Kamloops that will donate our lumber.
Stanley, Black and Decker and DeWALT have already offered to contribute the construction tools we'll need. I think every supplier I'm going to ask will want to participate. I'll find out when I start making phone calls this week for all of the stuff we need.
If you have contacts at a company that may want to contribute any of the following materials, please contact me directly: mag at toolgirldotcom ---
- Laminate flooring
- Bathtub, toilet and sink
- Plumbing fixtures
- Queen-sized bed frame
- Queen mattress
- Toaster oven
- Coffee maker
I'll post weekly updates on the companies and people who are helping make Tanner's biggest wish come true. Although I haven't met him yet, I have a feeling about Tanner. I think he's a huge and unforgettable soul with a great deal to teach in the time he has left.
*Tanner's muscular dystrophy is caused by a problem with the gene that makes a protein called dystrophin. This protein helps muscle cells keep their shape and strength. Without it, muscles break down and a person gradually becomes weaker. DMD affects boys. Symptoms usually start between ages 2 and 6. By age 10 or 12, kids with DMD often need to use a wheelchair. The heart may also be affected, and people with DMD need to be followed closely by a lung and heart specialist. Over time, even the muscles that control breathing get weaker, and a person might need a ventilator to breathe. People with DMD usually do not survive beyond their late teens or early adulthood.