'Fingerprints of love': Volunteers transform 8-year-old's home to be more accessible

Vienna Kennedy has a congenital syndrome which gives her mobility challenges. The eight-year-old and her parents are the inaugural recipients of a Build Love project, which saw volunteers work to make their home more accessible.

Build Love project received 'insane amount of support'

(From left) Jared, Vienna and Liana Kennedy are the first recipients of free renovations from the Build Love project in Regina. (Facebook/Build Love)

It was a sleepless night for the Kennedy family as they prepared to see how their Regina home had changed.

"So excited," said a near-breathless Liana Kennedy, as she and her husband, Jared, and their eight-year-old daughter Vienna waited to go inside the home that has been under renovation for months as part of the first-ever Build Love project.

Vienna Kennedy has a congenital syndrome which gives her mobility challenges. Her bedroom and bathroom were narrow and hard to get to with her walker. When they bought the home, Liana and Jared expected they had a lot of work on their hands.  

"For a while that was our reality, struggling with the renos," recalled Jared.

The Build Love project's first-ever recipient is eight-year-old Vienna Kennedy. (CBC News)

When the Kennedys reached out to some builders to get quotes, Brandon Fuchs with Superior Contracting and Derek Wu with Collaborative Construction found themselves moved by the family's story. They began figuring out the logistics of completing the work through donations and volunteer hours.

Fuchs said they received an "insane amount of support," with people volunteering their efforts, seven days a week, to create a more accessible home for Vienna.

"For me, this day means an opportunity for change in our community," said Fuchs, promising there were more plans ahead for future Build Love projects in Regina. "It shows how we can unite for one cause and give an amazing gift for the Kennedys."

Brandon Fuchs, co-founder of Build Love, said many volunteers gave their time and effort to helping renovate the Kennedy home. (CBC News)

Attention to details, big and small

As the construction vans moved aside on Wednesday morning, Liana inhaled with surprise at the renovated house.

As the family walked in, they expressed disbelief at the nearly unrecognizable home. Walls had been removed and Vienna's bedroom and bathroom were expanded to become more accessible.

Vienna just squealed with delight.

They also marvelled over smaller details, like a desk for Vienna that could be elevated, or a kitchen counter at her level that could be folded up and down to make more room, or pictures that showed the family together. 

Vienna Kennedy squeals with delight as her parents show her new details in their home, including this kitchen counter that can be folded up and reaches Vienna's height. (CBC News)

"Unbelievable. It's too good for us," said Liana. She turned to the builders, and her voice caught on a sob, as she thanked them.

"Everywhere you look, you can just see the fingerprints of love here. Every detail. You've done the big things and the little things, and it's amazing."

Jared and Liana Kennedy thank the builders and volunteers who made the renovations to make their Regina home more accessible. (CBC News)

She said the new changes would allow Vienna an independence that some might take for granted, things like being able to use the washroom on her own, or being able to get something from her room for herself.

"I think it brings us great joy when Vienna just says 'I can,' " she said.

"I can!" Vienna chirped.

Her mother just nodded, with an ear-splitting grin, and said, "Yeah. It's pretty exciting."