For three long months, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen worked hard at rehabilitating herself after an ATV accident in June, 2014, that left her paralyzed from the waist down. The six-time gold medal Olympian swimmer was determined to regain control of her life as quickly as possible.
Unbeknownst to Amy, during that same three months, her husband, Tom, had been in touch with George Oliphant of George to the Rescue (GTTR), a popular national home improvement TV show that “rescues” homes when special needs arise. GTTR, Budget Blinds®, Tailored Living® and other local contractors and friends formed a solid team to renovate the Scottsdale home so she would return to a totally retrofitted house. George shares, “Contractors in the area, normally competing for jobs, today banded together to help us help Amy. We want her house to be 100% accessible before she gets out of rehab. She has no idea we’re here, it’s a total surprise.”
A National Secret
Behind the scenes, people across the country were working together to surprise Amy. Budget Blinds serving North Scottsdale franchisee Gloria Guillermo was part of the committed team, designing and installing custom cellular honeycomb shades donated by Custom Brands Group, a Budget Blinds vendor partner. Budget Blinds’ sister company, Tailored Living, did a custom closet makeover in the master bedroom giving Amy access to her entire wardrobe from her wheelchair.
Meredith Vieira had Amy, her husband and George as guests on her show, The Meredith Vieira Show, to reveal the surprise to Amy. Amy shared some concerns about going home as she discussed her accident with Meredith.
Amy: “Carpets are hard, and doorways. As my house was when I left it, I will not be able to take a shower, no cooking, won’t be able to see if pots are boiling, won’t be able to reach the faucet to do dishes. We’ve had some of Tom’s friends in the house making sure things are okay.”
Meredith: “Do they know what they’re doing?”
Amy: “I don’t know.”
Any apprehension melted away when Meredith introduced George and they explained what had been going on and showed Amy clips of some of the renovations. (Click here to view The Meredith Vieira Show episode.)
There’s No Place like Home
After such an extended time away and with all the new surprises, Amy was anxious to return home. She says, “To me home means laughter, love and good meals—sometimes they’re burnt—but a place where you can put your feet up and your hair down and really be yourself.”
George met Amy and Tom at their home for the “welcome home” reveal. Everyone who participated in the renovation was there to welcome Amy home and her thank you, even before she went inside, was touching: “You guys are amazing. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. Every morning when I wake up I’ll probably think of all of you.”
Inside, George took Amy room to room to show what had been done especially for her:
- Carpets replaced with tile for ease of movement through the house.
- The motorized cellular shades perfectly compliment the home’s décor and increase energy efficiency. A/C and window shades are remote controlled so Amy can easily manage light and temperature.
- Master bath received a barrier-free shower, lowered sink/makeup area for Amy, new faucets (she declared it a spa!).
- Custom closet in master bedroom has pull-down bars, low hanging rods, drawers and shoe racks so clothes and accessories are reachable (Amy called her before closet a “hot mess”).
- Kitchen island was lowered and fitted with sink and faucets to be wheelchair accessible.
- Stove was lowered and fitted to accommodate Amy’s chair so she can cook, and a remote control hood was added.
- Drop-down cabinets bring dishes to counter top level at the touch of a button.
- The backyard pool now has a specialized lift so Amy can get in and out of the pool.
- Her beloved Chevy was outfitted so she can drive again (this final reveal brought the big tears).
This special day was an emotional time for everyone. Watching Amy smile, cry and laugh was testimony to the depth of feeling this outpouring of love and support created in her. Each person involved has a part in the overwhelming satisfaction and joy of the moment and Budget Blinds was honored to participate. (Click here to watch the George to the Rescue reveal episode.) It was a true Hallmark moment!
“It’s like my sanctuary, and you know how you feel about your house. I didn’t want a lot to change but I also didn’t want it to look like the handicapped girl lives there. You guys did such a great job, I’m so excited. I feel like when I’m in the house I’m not really handicapped because I can do absolutely everything in this house. So without George to the Rescue, I would feel like a handicapped person, [but] I’m free. This has changed everything.” – Amy Van Dyken-Rouen
Budget Blinds can help make your home more functional and energy efficient with fresh, stylish window treatments. A Budget Blinds Style Consultant will come to you to discuss your needs, with design idea books and samples of shades, blinds, shutters and drapery fabrics to assist with getting the perfect result for your home. Call (866) 879-9730 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online at www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you.