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Honorees

Brookwood Community – The Delivery

The Brookwood community houses 110 citizens who are functionally disabled and has 80 others in its daycare program. The community put together a video request for a state-of-the-art therapeutic tub from Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co., via its national program of giving, Safe Step Cares. This is the original video Brookwood submitted: https://vimeo.com/101539869. Safe Step Cares was founded on a promise the owner Mike Duffer made to his mother: If Safe Step experiences success, his company would give back to the communities in which it does business. The company evaluates submissions, letters, and requests and carefully selects those in need, and simply shows up with a tub of love,  or sometimes, more than one. What makes the Brookwood story so special, in addition to its deserving residents, is the video is submitted. In short, it blew Safe Step away. The owner, Mike Duffer, said, “let’s give them more than they asked for.” Safe Step Cares surprised them with three tubs.  

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Lacey Pate

She gets around mainly in her wheelchair. She also was born with a severe club foot and a vertical tail, she has had surgery on her feet 3 times but still, her feet can’t sit flat on the floor. When Lacey was 3 her spine was at an 80-degree angle and her body was the shape of a C. Lacey’s pulmonary specialist had admitted her to the pediatric intensive care unit because her spine was crushing the lung so severely that even with oxygen and a bi-pap machine she was having difficulty breathing. She has now had a total of 47 surgeries. Since having these life-saving surgeries she now only has to have oxygen at night, while flying, when she is sick, and after surgery during her recovery. After her most recent surgery in May, Lacey’s lungs collapsed and she was put on a ventilator and had to have a chest tube placed. She has been in critical condition several times but she is a miracle girl who just refuses to let the condition define her. Safe Step Walk-In Tub Company, which routinely receives numerous letters for tub donations, heard about Lacey’s story and found her online donation site. Through its award-winning national program of giving, Safe Step Cares, the Nashville-based company delivered a state-of-the-art tub to Lacey at no cost to the family in May. Safe Step Cares is based on a promise the owner made to his dying mother, who helped him start the business. He told her if the company became successful that it would make a difference in peoples’ lives through charitable giving. “We were moved by Lacey’s story and how the community has rallied around her,” said Mike Duffer, president and founder of Safe Step Walk-In Tub, who flew in for the event in order to meet Lacey and her parents. “We came upon her online campaign and decided that after all she and her family had been through, we would surprise them by giving her a tub that will change her life.” Safe Step became aware of Lacey via a letter written by Tim O’Brien, who heard about Lacey’s situation despite never having met her or her parents. Safe Step decided to fly Tim and his wife Daryl to Auburndale in order to meet Lacey and her parents. That will happen later in July of 2014.

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Sophia Jablonski

Ms. Jablonski is 4’11”, recently had back surgery and her daughter is as big as her, which makes bathing a complete physical challenge. Naheda is well known in the Orland Park community for her fundraising efforts for others’ causes. She keeps her daughters involved in Girl Scouts and dancing (even Sophia is in a dance group for disabled students). Many in the community, as well as the village itself, have come to her assistance because of her past deeds. Her church remodeled the lower level of her home so a ramp could be installed. They also repainted the interior of the house. When her local bank heard she was facing foreclosure, they stepped up and refinanced her with a 40-year loan she could afford. In looking for ways to ease her daughter’s pain and grant her independence, she reached out to the Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. It’s important to note, that she was interested in purchasing the tub and was not asking for help. It was determined that Ms. Jablonski was unable to afford the tub for her daughter. But, rather than simply moving on, the sales representative who met with Ms. Jablonski, Don Ball, asked his company to help. And they did. Safe Step, which routinely receives numerous letters for tub donations, recognized that Ms. Jablonski was making a difference in her church and community, but she needed assistance for her daughter with a disability. So the company decided to make a difference for the Orland Park teenager and her family. Through its award-winning national program of giving, Safe Step Cares, the Nashville-based company delivered and installed the tub that will change the family’s life. At no cost to the family. “We were moved by the Jablonski’s story and Safe Step is in the business of changing the lives of our neighbors and friends, every day” said Craig Dauffenbach, CEO and owner of Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. of Minnesota, Inc., who chose the Jablonski family as the Safe Step Cares recipient. “We felt the family could really benefit from our tub and we are thrilled to help them with something that will change their lives.”

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Corporal Franck Dupéré

A soldier from the 4th Battalion of the Royal 22nd, which served in Afghanistan, Cpl. Dupéré was wounded by a suicide bomber in 2011. He lost an eye, mobility in his left hand, and part of his hearing. As part of its program of giving, Safe Step Cares decided to help Cpl. Dupéré with a state-of-the-art hydrotherapeutic tub donated by Canadian Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co., to help improve his mobility, independence, comfort, and safety. At a press gathering at the LeBreton Gallery in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Cpl. Dupéré received his tub. “We were touched by Franck’s story and Dr. Kavanagh’s letter, and decided to step in and see how we could help,” says Derek Farley, who oversees the Safe Step Cares program. “We are delighted to present Cpl. Dupéré with something that will change his life on the day Canada is honoring those who served in Afghanistan.”

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