Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Tonya Papanikolas reporting A Cedar Hills family felt first hand the generosity of friends, neighbors, even strangers this Holiday season.
Around 200 volunteers came forward to renovate the family's house and help make life a little easier for them and their autistic son. And they did it all in just three weeks.
Six-year-old Ben White is autistic. He has a hard time communicating and little things can send him into a tantrum.
Marcie White, Ben's Mother: “As a mom, it's really hard... It's really hard to watch that and not know what to do."
The entire family always keeps a close watch over Ben.
Jared White, Ben's Father: “We call him a Houdini. He's an escape artist, and he can get out. And he will just wander off."
For Christmas, the White's friends wanted to do something for Ben. So they decided to renovate the house, making it safer and more therapeutic.
M'shelle Dixon, Friend of the Whites: “When we got here, we realized the magnitude of what our friends were dealing with."
The Dixons recruited more friends, neighbors and relatives, who raised 12-thousand dollars in cash. Then workers started donating labor and supplies.
Marcie White, Ben's Mother: “They'd been contracted to take the payment, and then just decided, no, we want to help this family."
On New Year's Day, the Whites received their gift.
When Ben saw his room, he jumped straight on his new down comforter to play with his Teletubbies.
Jared White, Ben's Father: “Part of what he needs is tactile stimulation to keep him calm. And the heaviness of the down will help him sleep better."
Ben loves to jump on his love sac. He can use all his energy and work out his wiggles. But the best part of the room is the trap door. He can go right down into his therapy room.
Downstairs an occupational therapist helped design a room like a playland. It has a slide for Ben a climbing wall where he can use his muscles and joints, and a small trampoline. A mirror is a good tool for learning body awareness. And Ben's parents especially love the spandex swing, which helps to relax him when he's having a tantrum.
Marcie White: “It helps him to feel connected and to feel at peace and to feel happy."
Normally large crowds upset Ben, but the day he saw his therapy room, he didn't seem to mind. He loved climbing the stairs and discovering new things at every turn.
Marcie White: “I just love him so much, and all I want is his happiness. And that's what this does.”
Upstairs, the Whites now have keyless combination locks on doors., to keep Ben out of trouble. And a new alarm system will verbally alert the family when Ben gets out.
Marcie White: “It's truly this home that's... That's all the love of all these people for my son, for all my family."
The Whites say they're extremely touched with all this love that has already changed their lives. In Cedar Hills,
The family will soon have a video surveillance system to keep a closer eye on Ben. The volunteers also raised enough money to give the other White children new rooms as well.