Fort McMurray volunteers renovate home for sick little girl
In a touching example of community spirit, complete strangers in Fort McMurray pooled their time, money and energy towards construction on a healthy home for a family in need.
Lily Morgan is only three years old, but already she’s undergone eight different surgeries or procedures in her short life. She was born premature, and had congenital heart failure — holes in her heart.
At one week old, she stopped eating, and was flown to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton where she had open heart surgery.
Since then, her parents and two older sisters have made the drive to Edmonton dozens of times, for appointments, testing and surgeries. Each time, paying for gas, hotels and food — but Lily’s health was their top priority.
“It’s hard knowing there’s an expiry date. It’s hard knowing any day could be her last,” her mom, April Morgan, said.
Lily’s body doesn’t handle temperature changes well and she can get sick very easily.
“She’s a trooper,” her dad, Matt Morgan, said. “She’s a tough little girl, I must say that. She wakes up every day with a smile.”
While dealing with the complications of Lily’s disease, the family’s old mobile home fell into disrepair.
A friend, Billy Martin, was babysitting the girls one day when he noticed some issues.
“He started poking around and he noticed the windows were iced up really bad and see that the sills were starting to deteriorate,” Matt said.
That wasn’t all: there was a problem with mould and the supports under the trailer were deteriorating.
Martin decided he was going to fix it. That’s when he turned to Fort McMurray for help in renovating the Morgans’ home.
“It turned into 1,000 people in a week and donation… There’s $300,000 in donations so far! That’s the value of the build we did here,” he said.
When the family went on a Children’s Wish Foundation trip to Florida, Martin and his team of volunteers moved in. They gutted the home and completely redesigned it.
Stephanie Klaamas, one of the lead volunteers, said the generosity of her community isn’t surprising, but it is heart-warming.
“Fort McMurray is amazing. I’ve never witnessed any other town like this — with the love and the heart. Everybody helps everybody else here.”
About 200 people came out for the big reveal Thursday evening.
The changes were so significant, both April and Matt were left in tears.
“You see this stuff on TV. But to actually have it happen to you, or even somebody you know, is totally astounding. It’s a big burden off the shoulders,” Matt said.
For their part, Lily and her sisters, Chloe and Brianna, loved their new rooms. The first thing Lily did was host a tea party at her new table.
“We won the lottery,” April said. “To have a nice house that is safe, that is like a showhome! It’s a showhome and it’s our home! Oh my God I’m so happy!”
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