Eastern Iowa Family Moves Into Donated Home

By Forrest Saunders

NEAR INDEPENDENCE, Iowa — They’re finally home. An Independence family has moved into their new handicap accessible house, built by donations from their community.

At 2,200 square feet and four bedrooms, mother Sue Spece said the home on Quasqueton Diagonal Boulevard is a perfect fit for her and her three handicapped children. All of them were born with spinal muscular atrophy.

“It’s a form of muscular dystrophy. They’ve never been able to walk. They’ve always been confined to wheelchairs,” Spece said.

The home was designed with the disabilities in mind. It’s spacious. Spece’s kids have their own rooms. Plus, a ceiling lift means Spece will no longer need to carry her grown kids to their wheelchairs.

Things weren’t always so good. For years, the Spece family lived in a different home, a few miles away. Space was very limited. Two of the kids had to share a room.

“I knew that it was starting to take a toll on me, having everything so labor intense,” Spece said.

To help, some in the community tried to get the family on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. The ABC television show would have given the Spece house a major remodel. The family got to the finals, but in the end didn’t make the cut.

Friend, Kathy Finholt was there when the Sue Spece found out.

“You could just feel the mood just drop. It was so hard not to just sit there and cry,” Finholt said.

Finholt wanted to do something to help. With some friends, she started an effort to raise about $200,000 to build the family a brand new home.

Over the next three years, Independence and people across the Midwest chipped in to help. Through private donations, events, and by selling about 20,000 handmade snowmen, Finholt and her group collected more than $194,000. It was enough to purchase a prefabricated home and ease some of the Spece family’s burdens.

“The first time I drove down the road and saw the house sitting here, I teared up,” Finholt said.

To Sue Spece the support has been overwhelming. She said she’s feeling a lot of love from a lot of people.

“I still have to pinch myself to make myself realize this is actually a dream come true,” Spece said.

The Spece family is still trying to raise money to build a garage for their new home. If you want to donate, check out the link.

l Comments: (319) 368-8610; forrest.saunders@kcrg.com

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