What did you do over the weekend? Maybe a concert of backyard barbecue while blasting some catchy tunes?
There were all types of music in the air this past Saturday, but some of the most impactful melodies weren’t anything produced by your favorite artist. Instead, these were the sounds of hope renewed and worries freed from overworked minds, mixed in with the all-too-familiar tones of hammers slamming nails and electric drills endlessly whirring.
Two Kirkland families were the recipients of this unique construction rock concert. For Saturday was the date they got to rock out safely and in style with help from a free wheelchair access ramp, courtesy of an impactful event called Rampathon.
Every year since 1993, member volunteers of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties gather to use their skills to build ramps for area neighbors in need of safe, practical access to and from their homes or other facilities such as a therapy pool or medical apparatus. This year, the event celebrated its 25th anniversary in the form of a record 48 new ramps built across King and Snohomish counties. Since its inception, Rampathon has produced some 500 ramps for local families and individuals.
Ben Welch is a 2018 ramp recipient. He has severe epilepsy and experiences muscle spasms that can cause dangerous falls, sometimes resulting in broken bones and other significant injuries.
Welch uses a wheelchair so that he and his mom, Teena, can get around without worry. Getting in and out of their home was beginning to become a problem, and so Teena contacted the Master Builders Association in hopes of being chosen as a 2018 Rampathon ramp recipient.
Thanks to association member Bath Plus Inc., Welch and his mom have a brand new ramp. What does their new home addition mean to the Welch family?
“Access to the outdoors is easier. (Ben) loves to go outside but it takes two people. Now, we can just open the front door and out we go. (And) I’ll be able to do it alone, which is great,” Teena said.
Bath Plus, like many Rampathon volunteers, wasn’t satisfied with just one ramp, however. The Bellevue-based company that specializes in building and installing adaptive equipment for the region’s aging at-home residents, produced a second ramp over the weekend for Kirkland residents Andrea Gurevich and her husband, Michael Janzen. Andrea has a brain tumor and has experienced partial loss in her extremities caused by symptoms of Lupus. The couple’s new wheelchair ramp means the freedom to move about and enjoy life the way they want.
At times, a Rampathon build site can resemble a concert atmosphere, with the melodic rhythms of construction filling the air and emotions and excitement running high, according to Master Builders. Association members like Bath Plus don’t participate in Rampathon for the adulation, though they have seemed to pick up a new fan in recipient Welch.
“Ben was very excited by the power tools,” Teena said. “He was fascinated watching the pieces go into place. He is just so thrilled (with his new ramp) and we couldn’t be more grateful. He loves the sound it makes when you walk on it.”