After an ATV accident in June, 2014, left Amy Van Dyken-Rouen paralyzed from the waist down, she spent the next three long months in rehabilitation. Regaining control of her life as quickly as possible was the dedicated goal of this six-time gold medal Olympian swimmer.
During that same three months, unbeknownst to Amy, her husband, Tom, had been in communication with George Oliphant of George to the Rescue (GTTR), a popular national home improvement TV show that “rescues” homes when special needs arise. GTTR, Tailored Living®, Budget Blinds® and other local contractors and friends formed a solid team to renovate the Scottsdale home so she would return to a totally retrofitted house. George shares, “Contractors in the area, normally competing for jobs, today banded together to help us help Amy. We want her house to be 100% accessible before she gets out of rehab. She has no idea we’re here, it’s a total surprise.”
All across the country, people were working together to surprise Amy. Tailored Living serving Scottsdale franchisee Kevin Kinney was part of the committed team, designing and building a fabulous custom his-and-hers master bedroom closet to give Amy full access to her wardrobe and accessories from her wheelchair. Tailored Living’s sister company, Budget blinds, designed and installed custom, motorized cellular honeycomb shades giving Amy total light and privacy control.
In New York, Meredith Vieira had Amy, her husband and George as guests on her show, The Meredith Vieira Show, to reveal the surprise to Amy. Amy talked about her accident and shared some concerns about going home.
Amy: “Carpets are hard, and doorways. As my house was when I left it, I will not be able to take a shower, no cooking, won’t be able to see if pots are boiling, won’t be able to reach the faucet to do dishes. We’ve had some of Tom’s friends in the house making sure things are okay.”
Meredith: “Do they know what they’re doing?”
Amy: “I don’t know.”
Any apprehension melted away when Meredith introduced George and they explained what had been going on and showed Amy clips of some of the renovations. (Click here to view The Meredith Vieira Show episode or watch it below.)
There’s No Place like Home
Amy was anxious to return home. She says, “To me home means laughter, love and good meals—sometimes they’re burnt—but a place where you can put your feet up and your hair down and really be yourself.”
George joined Amy and Tom in Scottsdale for the “welcome home” reveal. Everyone who had helped with the renovation was there to welcome Amy home and her thank you, even before she went inside, was touching: “You guys are amazing. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. Every morning when I wake up I’ll probably think of all of you.”
The Tailored Living custom closet was a big hit, especially when George explained that the pull-down closet rods work best when loaded with clothes (they can support 26 pounds):
George: “A girl loves the closet, right?”
Amy: “Mine was a hot mess! That is so cool about the pull-downs. ”
George: “The more clothes, the easier they are to pull down.”
Amy: “The more clothes…!”
Tom: “Oh, George, don’t tell her that!”
George took Amy for a room-to-room tour to show all the improvements that had been made for her:
- Carpets replaced with tile for ease of movement through the house.
- The motorized cellular shades perfectly complement the home’s décor and increase energy efficiency. A/C and window shades are remote controlled so Amy can easily manage light and temperature.
- Master bath received a barrier-free shower, lowered sink/makeup area for Amy, new faucets (she declared it a spa!).
- Custom closet in master bedroom has pull-down rods, low hanging rods, drawers and shoe racks so clothes and accessories are reachable.
- Kitchen island was lowered and fitted with sink and faucets to be wheelchair accessible.
- Stove was lowered and fitted to accommodate Amy’s chair so she can cook, and a remote control hood was added.
- Drop-down cabinets bring dishes to counter top level at the touch of a button.
- The backyard pool now has a specialized lift so Amy can get in and out of the pool.
- Her beloved Chevy was outfitted so she can drive again (this final reveal brought the big tears).
Watching Amy smile, cry and laugh was testimony to the depth of feeling this outpouring of love and support created in her. Each person involved has a part in the overwhelming satisfaction and joy of the moment and Tailored Living was honored to participate. (Click here to watch the George to the Rescue reveal episode or view it below.)
It was a true Hallmark moment!
“It’s like my sanctuary, and you know how you feel about your house. I didn’t want a lot to change but I also didn’t want it to look like the handicapped girl lives there. You guys did such a great job, I’m so excited. I feel like when I’m in the house I’m not really handicapped because I can do absolutely everything in this house. So without George to the Rescue, I would feel like a handicapped person, [but] I’m free. This has changed everything.” – Amy Van Dyken-Rouen
If your home needs some TLC (tender loving care) to be more comfortable and functional for you and your family, Tailored Living can help. We’re experts at whole home organization and storage solutions, including custom closet design, garage cabinets and flooring, pantry design and more. Call (866) 712-3404 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online to www.tailoredliving.com to scroll through our photo gallery or to find an organization specialist near you.