A home in shambles, help on the way
An East Troy family taken advantage of by a contractor while helping their daughter battle cancer has a newly remodeled home thanks to the Lakeland Builders Association.
The project was recently completed. Read Donna Lenz Wright's story from August after the jump.
VIDEO from Fox News is HERE.
Builders group volunteers to help East Troy familyBy Donna Lenz Wright Walworth County Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008
EAST_TROY - Molly Ebbers only was trying to help when she hired a contractor to install a basement in her sister's East Troy home.
But shortly after work began on Kate and Ken Rath's home, Ebbers said, the house collapsed. She said the contractor hung tarps over the exposed areas and never returned.
About the same time, the Raths' 9-year-old daughter, Meaghan, was diagnosed with a relapse of the leukemia the family thought they had successfully battled two years earlier.
Now, thanks to volunteers from the Lakeland Builders Association, who also sponsored a fundraiser Saturday (Aug. 16), the Raths' future is beginning to look brighter.
That's a far cry from where the family found themselves last fall.
The condition of their home was terrible. Half of it had collapsed. The walls were cracked and the doors wouldn't shut. Large holes in the front of the house exposed the inside to the weather like a three-sided lean-to.
Ebbers couldn't stand to see her sister's family in such trouble while Kate and Ken worked full-time and fought for their daughter's life.
The contractor has a history of legal trouble, according to online court records, but legal action wouldn't solve the family's immediate problems.
"They really didn't say much about it," Ebbers said. "That's the kind of people they are - they're there to help out anyone else, but won't ask for a thing when they need it.
So they jacked up that side of their house and lived in it while the floors iced over and the heating bills went through the roof, she said.
Through it all, the family stayed focused on Meaghan's health.
Ebbers contacted everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart to "Extreme Home Makeover" for help, but to no avail.
Then she contacted the Lakeland Builders Association's Builders Help Foundation. The group helps local families in crisis, making much-needed home improvements due to illness, handicap and injuries.
"Within three hours, Jean called back," Ebbers said of Jean Kruzan, who owns and operates Kruzan Construction in Genoa City with her husband, Kent.
"How could we turn them down?" Kruzan says. "What happened to them is just terrible.
While work on their home continues, the Raths are living in an apartment donated by Beilinski Homes.
By mid-August, a new basement was already in place, and interior framing was well under way.
Every item and hour has been donated by LBA members and local businesses.
And there's good news with Meaghan's health, too. Doctors have found a matching bone-marrow donor and optimistic.
"But there are so many kids just in Milwaukee who don't have matches," Ebbers said. "And just like Kate - she's working very hard to find matches for them."
For more information on how to help Meaghan, visit www.lakelandba.com.