Community pulls together to raise funds for a deserving family
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 04/05/2012 1:58 PM
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa —Fundraising is going well for "Building a Dream in the Country," the Independence effort to get a new and accessible home for Sue Spece and her three adult children. Josh and Jacob Spece and their married sister Jackie Heinz are wheelchair-bound due to spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy.
"Yet all the children are college graduates and business owners," said Kathy Finholt, an Independence business owner who helped form the fundraising group.
Finholt worked with friends to nominate the Spece family for an "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" episode in 2009. When another deserving family was selected for the TV program, Finholt and her friends knew that they had to do something. Their efforts grew into "Building a Dream in the Country."
The group held a successful community fundraiser last weekend at the Buchanan County fairgrounds in Independence. The event featured meal, entertainment and a silent auction.
"We had such wonderful community response," Finholt said. "Everything was donated or given to us at cost. A business rented the building on our behalf and the entertainers donated or significantly discounted the prices that they usually charge."
Silent auction items were donated by people and businesses throughout the region.
Finholt said that Audrey Gibbs and her children opened their West Union home, which was built for "Extreme Makeover" for a fundraiser. A member of the Gibbs family read a newspaper article about the community efforts to get a new house for the Speces, and they wanted to share their good fortune.
"I can't begin to tell you how tickled I was to hear from Audrey Gibbs," said Finholt. "For Audrey and her family to help us this way was absolutely amazing. The open house exceeded all our expectations. It was incredible."
Sue Spece said she and Audrey Gibbs have become good friends.
"I'm so thankful for what she did," Spece said.
An Aurora American Legion pancake breakfast and Winthrop St. Pat's fish fry were also successful. A motorcycle ride and a tractor ride are among upcoming fundraisers.
"Building a Dream in the Country" is raising funds to purchase an All American Home through McNamara Custom Carpentry of Urbana.
The Spece family learned of the project and was presented with a preliminary floor plan in January.
"We felt we had to do something," said Finholt. "The Spece family are really wonderful people and deserve a comfortable home. Everyone has been so eager to help. We have received donations from all over, and people are lining up to help with labor. It's heartwarming."
Finholt started with a committee of five which grew to 12.
Meeting Sue Spece and her kids quickly changes a person's perspective on life, Finholt said.
"You see what they deal with, and they deal with it so well," Finholt said. "They've faced a lot of hurdles in life and accomplished more than a lot of people have. Sue's kids all went to school and they all have businesses. They are brilliant kids."