Community Outreach Helps Bring Atchison Teen Home

By Bridget Blevins |

Published 11/21 2013 01:28PM

Updated 11/21 2013 01:38PM

(ATCHISON, Kan.) From picture frames on the night stand to football memorabilia on the walls, John Shankman's bedroom is pretty typical for a teenager.

A closer look around shows a not-so-average set-up. His room is equipped with a special shower, sink and even a bed designed to specifically for him.

"It's been so wonderful because it's enabled us to bring John home," said Kim Shankman, John's mom. "Without it, we wouldn't have been able to bring him home at all."

The wonderful part of the addition goes far beyond what you see inside the walls. It was built on the generosity of the community that stepped up when they saw the Shankmans in need.

Family friend Liz Wagner remembers the Facebook post from Kim that left her longing to help.

"She was saying they had to decide what to do once it was time for John to come home because their house wasn't handicapped accessible. She just didn't even know where to start. I couldn't sleep that night thinking about it," said Wagner.

So Wagner went to work, rounding up volunteers and money in Atchison.

"We framed it in and shingled the house," said Mike Hundley of Michael Hundley Construction.

"It just had to be done. That's all there was to it," added Buck Alberts, who contributed to the project.

Crews cleaned up the yard, built a ramp and added on a new room to get the home ready for John's return.

"I was so overwhelmed with the amount of people we got to volunteer with this project," added Wagner.

They started in March after John was seriously injured in a rollover accident.

"Just knowing that there are so many people willing to do so much for us, it's just amazing," said Wagner.

That amazing feeling was almost too much for the Shankmans when they took it all in for the first time Tuesday night, surrounded by those who stepped in to be by their side.

"It was one of the best nights ever. It was just so overwhelming and emotional for so many people," Wagner recalls.

More than 100 people showed up for the homecoming.

"I was there when he came home last night and it was very emotional," said Alberts.

It was emotional and humbling as the family started their new life in the home built by the helping hands of their community.

"I'm just so grateful to every single person that's been involved here," said Kim.

John will continue his therapy, but he now requires 24-7 care. And, his family is thankful he is once again home where he belongs.

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