In the past six months, the Burbank family of Maplewood has been through steep challenges. After Carolyn and Eric Burbank's son, , the family has struggled to adapt to their "new normal."
The Burbanks have deep roots in Maplewood. Eric is the longtime Director of Public Works. Ryan worked at Village Trattoria and played football and lacrosse at Columbia High School.
After the accident, the community banded together to offer help in ways large and small, visiting, making meals and organizing fundraisers to help the family afford home renovations to accommodate Ryan's needs.
A sunken living room left Ryan largely confined to the first floor sitting room, unable to even watch TV with his brothers, and the bathroom was unaccessible to wheelchairs. (See photo attached of the living room "before".) Although family and friends painted the sitting room the colors of his favorite Dallas Cowboys, the arrangement left Ryan with little privacy and the family without a comfortable place to congregate.
Enter family friend who knew someone with a connection to NBC's home improvement show "George to the Rescue," where host George Oliphant and crew renovate homes to change people's lives. Ramos suggested the Burbank family for the show.
"We wanted to bring the family dynamic back," said Ramos.
The crew spent three weeks totally renovating the ground floor, which will enable Ryan to not only get around with ease but to have privacy. A horde of local contractors, businesses and many friends -- including Ryan's old high school buddies and lacrosse teammates -- also pitched in, donating labor and materials.
Volunteers include Brinton Brosius Construction, designer Ashlee Anthony, electrician John Nittolo, plumber Todd Williams of Wooley Heating, Ricciardi Paint (which donated all the Benjamin Moore paint), NJ Plumbing Supply and Home Depot. Angelo and Mary Vayas of Village Trattoria donated all the food for the crew.
Monday is the day of the big "reveal," the first time the Burbanks will get to see their new home. (The episode will air sometime in March.)
In addition, The HK Project and the South Orange Elks will soon present the family with a new handicapped accessible van, made possible by donations.
The Burbank family has been staying at a local hotel, courtesy of the show. Eric Burbank said they are very excited to see the results and are blown away by the community's generosity.
"I was telling (a cameraman) how much everyone from Maplewood has supported us...(and that) I would put Maplewood up against any town when it comes to people caring for their neighbors and helping each other," said Burbank. "His answer was 'I have noticed, this town is like Pleasantville; everyone is so nice and it seems like everyone knows each other.'"
Burbank added, "It made me proud to say we live in Maplewood."
Patch will be on the scene for Monday's "reveal" - stay tuned for exclusive coverage!