It has been a long time since we had a house update (due to the ongoing legal issues)! Sorry about that. Anyway, the last couple months have seen a lot of work around the house, both inside and out. We are hoping to finally move home in the next week or two, after being away for over 15 months! The house won’t be completely finished, but it will be done enough that we can move home while the rest of the work is finished. Once we are in, have cleaned, unpacked, and settled in, we will post pics of the finished rooms for everyone to see on our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/jointeamgriffin. Thanks for everyone’s continued support and asking after us.
Well, you are probably wondering why you haven't seen anything from us in a few months regarding the house project. There is a reason for that"¦ and it is NOT good...
Our general contractor (GC), Ranger Construction, walked off of our project in mid-February. We have paid Ranger 98% of our contract for a job that is, at-best, 60% complete, and Ranger has failed to deliver thousands of dollars in paid-for materials. Why did Ranger decide to do this to our family? We're not entirely certain, but we know they made the decision immediately after learning that they were not going to be able to get a tax write-off for the "discount" they were giving us on the project. Apparently, despite knowing that the money to fund the project was coming from the GoFundMe campaign, Ranger thought they could get a receipt from the Chive Charities that would permit them to take a tax benefit from "discounting" the cost of the project. In any event, at the end of Valentines' Day week, Ranger walked off the project, got a lawyer involved, and told us that they would not come back to the project unless "we restructured our agreement."
Under attack by Ranger, we had to go get counsel for ourselves. Unfortunately, we didn't know how we would be able to afford it. Fortunately, one of our best friends is a lawyer, who now lives in Florida, and he put us in contact with a partner at his old firm Clark Hill (Jordan), and told him about our story and what was happening. Jordan and Stu at Clark Hill agreed to take our case pro bono! This was a miracle in itself, as we certainly didn't have the money to pay for a lawyer to defend our interests, while trying to finish our house project so we might eventually return home, especially considering that Ranger took nearly all of the money we had set aside for the project.
So, back to the house. February essentially saw no work on the house, except that done by us. We got a new contractor who graciously helped us during the drywall party and is now helping us resurrect the project as best we can. We are finishing the process of determining what materials are still needed, what work is still not completed, and (even worse) what work was done incorrectly. As if this story is not enraging enough, the list of items not done correctly is significant and will need to be fixed, on top of everything else. This included having Ranger complete Griffin's handicapped-accessible bathroom!
So here is where we are"¦
Ranger has nearly all of our construction money, has refused to continue working on the project, has not completed a large portion of the job or delivered a significant amount of materials we already paid for, and has done a lot of things wrong or poorly in the house that will need to be fixed. Making matters worse, since we paid Ranger all of the GoFundMe money we had, we do not have enough money to complete the work to get back into the house. We took out a loan to complete the work that we were originally responsible for and what we have left is tens of thousands of dollars short of how much we need to complete all the work. What this means is that essentially Ranger has now taken our house from us as well.
As you may be able to imagine, we are having trouble, because we can't keep our minds from dwelling on this nightmare. Neither of us has been able to sleep well, and both of us are incredibly stressed. In fact, Krissy recently said she is "no longer happy, because all she can think about all day and night is how Ranger has destroyed what was supposed to be our dream for our family." All I could do was hug her and nod in agreement.
While we are looking at our legal options and trying to mitigate our damages, the important thing is to get our family back into our home as soon as possible, and right now we simply can't do that. We have been trying our best to KCCO for a couple months now, but as you can imagine having the dream that all of you handed to us last Spring taken away by the very company we hired to build it is pushing us beyond our limits. So sorry to share such sad news, but we wanted to share with all of you what has been going on. Hopefully, our luck will turn, and we'll be able to get our family in to the house soon"¦
For those that were curious how things were going and were not following the Team Griffin Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/jointeamgriffin), we are nearing completion of the rough portion of the construction of the addition. Outstanding issues left include windows and doors being installed, insulation, and siding. After those we move to the drywall, flooring, painting, and bathrooms. We are estimating being all done sometime in February or possibly into March. We are very excited and can't wait to finally have the house that all of you have given to us! =)
You bet Melissa! I had created a Facebook page to keep people updated on Griffer related items here - https://www.facebook.com/jointeamgriffin. We have been looking at buying houses but have had not a lot of luck between finding one that meets our needs, is within school districts that keep Griffin in the same program, and staying near Krissy's parents. That said we are still looking, but we have also started looking into expansion of the existing house. We are working with an architect to come up with plans and costs to see how that could work. We are pretty excited and between the two options we are pretty confident we will a concrete plan soon! =)
I spent about four hours going back through 5600 posts and donations as I missed a lot of them, especially early on as they flew by. I wanted to see every single name and message. I saw posts from all over the US, but also from many nations including England, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Afghanistan, Peru, Australia, Canada, Norway, France, the Netherlands, and of course the Chive Nation! The variety of people was just as diverse including 'Bill F@#%ing Murray, a ninja, and Captain Morgan, lol! I also saw people who donated more than once, children who opened their piggy banks, a girl who sent in her birthday money, parents of special needs children, a disabled veteran, and those who were in tight financial situations. I saw brave men and women from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. I even saw two Mounties from our neighbors to the north. And last and certainly not least, I saw people inspired by Griffin to also donate to the Chive Charity and that was fantastic. All these touched us, made us laugh, made us cry, and gave us joy and excitement for the next grantee who's life is changed by the folks at the Chive, the Chive Charity, and the Chivers! Thank you all!!!
I just got home from work and have read a ton more of the posts. I find myself felling many things, most of which is shock and awe, at the staggering power of the human spirit and particularly how many people have commented on how this story and little Griffer have renewed THEIR faith in humanity. I am just as renewed and feel a deep-rooted sense of gratitude, and a bit of guilt, that I am getting more than a ludicrous volume of donations :) from so many amazing Chivers. And trust me, as a years-long Chiver myself, if you are a part of this story now and didn't necessarily come here via the Chive, you ARE a Chiver and part of a group of people that can do anything. KCCO!!
The love and generosity is still in the overwhelming category for us! Again thank you to everyone! =) I setup a Facebook page for Griffer that we will use to let all his new friends know how he is doing over the next days and months at
over four years ago my wife Krissy gave birth to triplets! Sadly, within moments after all three had
joined the world, one of the doctors uttered the following words to us, "Your
son has no eyes." I still feel the shock
from that statement to this day.
did we know that was just the start of Griffin's difficult journey on our
little blue planet. Over the course of
the next six months there were lots of tests done including three genetic tests
to determine what else might be wrong with Griffin, as it became obvious there
were other issues at hand. After the
third genetic test, the doctors determined he had SOX2
anophthalmia syndrome. What is SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome you ask?
anophthalmia syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by abnormal
development of the eyes and other parts of the body. SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome is estimated to
affect 1 in 250,000 individuals. About 10% to 15% of people with anophthalmia
in both eyes have SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome,
like Griffin. People
with SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome are usually born without eyeballs
(anophthalmia), may also have seizures, although Griffin doesn't thankfully,
brain abnormalities, slow growth, delayed development of motor skills (such as
walking), and mild to severe learning disabilities. Some people with this condition are born with
a blocked esophagus, which is often accompanied by an abnormal connection
between the esophagus and the trachea. Genital
abnormalities have been described in affected individuals, especially males.
Griffin, now four years old, has all
of these including being partially deaf in both ears, he can't eat or drink due
to the esophageal issues and survives on a liquid diet through a feeding tube
in his stomach, and although he is working hard in school learning sign
language and braille and using communication switches, he is still unable to
communicate meaningfully with us. We
feed him three times a day via his stomach feeding tube, and he is connected to
a pump at night that feeds him the rest of his food in order to get enough
calories to grow. He is still not able
to crawl, but can roll over from back to front.
He is unable to keep his head upright when in a seated position for
extended periods of time, but he is getting there! He tends to "˜overheat' very easily making
travel outside or in the car often difficult.
I could go on and on with his other issues, trips to the hospital, and
surgeries, but I want to shift to the positive aspects of Griffin's life and
our plans to make it even better!
Griffin attends a special school
where he gets specialized deaf-blind assistance and therapy from several
fantastic teachers and therapists. My
wife Krissy and I work with him at home on a daily basis trying to help him
learn to crawl, sit upright, and stand, as well as more specific things like
holding on to toys, learning to swallow, and trying to talk. Krissy's parents, Bev and Gary, also provide
invaluable help with Griffin working with him, babysitting, picking him up from
school, going to doctors appointments, and financially. We would be lost without their help. All these amazing people that help make life
better for our son we have dubbed "Team Griffin."
What we are hoping to do is raise
money to help expand our house to make it accessible for the Griffer (as we
often call him).
We originally wanted to move and find
something a little more suited to what he will need, but like so many people in
recent years, we found ourselves vastly underwater on our mortgage due to
plummeting housing values which made moving financially impossible, short of
walking away from the house (foreclosure).
So we decided to look into building on to it. Right now it is a 950 square feet bungalow
style house that will soon become too small for him as he grows. He has a custom wheelchair but due to the
nature of our house, he is unable to use it in our home and we are currently
carrying him throughout the house. The entryways are too narrow for a
wheelchair and our bathroom barely holds two adults. We won't be able to get a wheelchair through
the door, let alone be in the bathroom with it and manage him into the tub
We plan to tear off the entire back
wall of the house and expand it outwards to add a handicap accessible bedroom
complete with a lift system for when he is too big to lift, a handicapped
accessible bathroom connected to his bedroom, and a larger kitchen/dining room
with two exterior doors to have enough room for Griffer to join the rest of the
family when we eat and to get a wheelchair in and out of the house. This will also allow Griffin to have a
dedicated space for his specialized equipment as he currently shares a bedroom
with his brother and sister!
We have enlisted the help of a
family friend who is a builder to help reduce the cost of the rough construction. Also, my father-in-law, my brother, and I
plan to do all the finish work ourselves to save as much money in labor as we
can on this project. We are planning to
start construction this Spring!
So that is what we are hoping to do to help make life a little easier for Griffer and also allow us to better help him. Thank you for reading and please feel free to share!