Garner woman gets life-changing gift

GARNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's going to be a special Christmas for Kelly Dowless. For the first time in five years, she has her independence in her own bathroom thanks to a group of contractors.

Kelly got her first look at her new handicapped-accessible bathroom Wednesday and was blown away at the transformation.

Kelly Dowless

The complete renovation, which cost more than $35,000 was all donated. We first told you about Dowless' story a few weeks ago.

The former Johnston County teacher assistant's life was changed in December of 2010. One day, her leg was numb and she thought it was a pinched nerve. Within 48 hours, Kelly was paralyzed from the chest down. She was diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder, Transverse Myelitis.

Kelly found her freedom stripped away. She lost her ability to walk; her new life was now in a wheelchair.

During the last five years, Kelly has adapted to her new life but one main obstacle remains for Kelly: her bathroom. It's a tight squeeze to get her wheelchair in and out of the bathroom.
She can't do anything on her own as it's not handicapped-accessible. She can't reach the outlets to plug in her hair dryer or curling iron. She can't reach the sink to turn on the water to brush her teeth. She can't get into the shower as her husband has to lift her from the wheelchair into the shower seat.

"The bathroom is the one area that is supposed to be your sanctuary where you can take a shower, dry your hair, put on your make up and do things on your own," said Kelly.

April Stephens, from the April Stephens Team- Re/Max One Realty went to school with Kelly and learned about Kelly's need on Facebook.

"It really hit home, and I thought this is one way we can help," said Stephens. "It's those things you read and it automatically pulls at your heartstrings. I felt like knowing the people we do with Distinictive Remodeling this is an area we could help."

The owners of Distinctive Remodeling and Paragon Building Group heard about Kelly's need and partnered together to make her dream a reality. They did the entire bathroom remodel at no charge for Kelly. The bathroom is now 100 percent wheelchair-accessible. The owner of Distinctive Remodeling, Eddie Casanave said, "We didn't do it by ourselves. It's a team effort. It's not just for Christmas, I think it's a life changing gift and I hope she enjoys every moment of it."

Kelly couldn't believe her new look.

"Oh wow, this is so pretty," said Kelly. "I can get in here and reach everything."

Gone is the narrow door that prevented Kelly from getting into her own closet for the last five years. She now has lower shelves so she can reach everything on her own. When it comes to the shower, it's set up as a wet room so she can just wheel her wheelchair into the shower and take one completely on her own.

Kelly says she loves her new sink where she can turn on the water by herself, and reach everything so she can get ready on her own and not rely on others to help her. It's a freedom she says she hasn't had in five years since using her wheelchair.

"This is nice. I love it. Thank you guys so much. God bless you all," Kelly added.

If the renovation wasn't a big enough gift, the group also surprised Kelly with more than $5,000 to help with any of her family's needs. That money was donated by various individuals and businesses along with The April Stephens Team and the Johnston County Building Industry Association. Kelly was speechless with the generosity and got emotional trying to thank everyone.

"This will help out a lot. Thank you so much," Kelly said.

One hundred percent of the labor and materials were all donated. Here are the companies and individuals that made this remodel possible for Kelly:

Joshua B. Mauney - Paragon Building Group, Inc.
Eddie Casanave - Distinctive Remodeling, LLC
Aaron Oaks - Distinctive Remodeling, LLC
Dave Cowick - Remodeling Solutions, LLC
Ralph Paul - Best Tile of Raleigh
Scott Talbert - Talbert Building Supply
Jill & Joe Murphy - Cary Granite
Nicole L. Gossage - Ferguson's of Raleigh
Jeromy Godwin & Jonathan Pourron - Barbour & Pourron Plumbing & Service
Chris Conrad - CMC Electric, LLC
Craig Losurdo - Custom Tile Installations
Jeff Ayscue - Ayscue's Trimwork, Inc.
April Stephens - The April Stephens Team - RE/MAX One Realty
Jay Lloyd - Delta Gypsum
Sherry Piney-Phillips - Johnston County Building Industry Association
Mario Irias - MI Drywall
Kitchen Cabinet Distributors
Phil Smith - G&M Service Company

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