Fort McMurray shows where its heart is with home makeover for family of sick girl

Hundreds of Fort McMurray volunteers, businesses and donors pulled off a surprise home renovation for the family of a girl born with a serious heart condition.

Fort McMurray family returns to a new home with $300,000 in renovations

Lily Morgan plays with her new toys in her new room. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Hundreds of Fort McMurray volunteers, businesses and donors pulled off a surprise home renovation for the family of a girl who was born with a serious heart condition.

On Thursday, the Morgan family returned to Fort McMurray following a Disney World vacation. But they barely recognized their home-sweet-refurbished-home in the subdivision in Timberlea.

"I can't believe this. Am I dreaming?" said April Morgan, whose three-year-old daughter Lily suffers from congenital heart failure.

In November, volunteers chose the Morgans for a surprise home makeover.

Lily's parents often complained their old Fort McMurray home didn't help their daughter's illness. It was damp, frost tended to build up in the windows and there was a mould problem.

Fort McMurray comes together to renovate the home of a sick girl. Project lead Billy Martin and organizer Stephanie Klaamas describe the project as the Morgan family sees the redone home for the first time. 1:35

"Dusty and musky. The draft isn't good for her. She gets very sick very easy," Lily's father Matt said in November. "Her immune system is very low."

Back from vacation into a new home

The family left for their vacation in mid-January and crews had less than a month to tear down and rebuild their 1984 trailer home.

They dubbed the project Extreme Makeover Fort McMurray Edition, after the American reality TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

The Morgan family celebrate the news in November 2017 that their home will be renovated. (David Thurton/ CBC)

The family's renovated home has new siding, insulation, plumbing and electrical, appliances, furniture and a heated floor.

A local Dodge dealership also donated a new 2016 Dodge Caravan minivan to the family, which needed a new vehicle for their frequent trips to Edmonton.

'This has been my life'

Billy Martin, the lead on the project, said they mobilized over 100 companies and worked nonstop to get everything done.

Martin said he has even been sleeping in his car.

"This has been my life. I haven't worked since the middle of November. This is everything that I have, my team has," Martin said. "Even my ex-girlfriends are here."

Stephanie Klaamas has been organizing volunteers and donations on social media. She is delighted with the result.

"I am very happy. I am very grateful to all the sponsors and volunteers," she said. "It's been truly amazing and it doesn't shock me. It is just Fort McMurray."

April Morgan is overcome with emotion at the results of the home makeover. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Project organizers are still looking for donations in hopes of giving the family a financial cushion as they focus on care for their daughter.


Donations can be made at any Servus Credit Union location in Alberta in person or through online banking using the the account name MORGAN FAMILY MAKEOVER.

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook and Twitter, email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.