Caleb Todd, 9, has a bone growth disorder and the most common type of dwarfism, Achondroplasia. Photo by Rhiannon Montgomery- Mustang Daily

Cal Poly industrial management graduate students unveiled the home they remodeled for the Todd family Sunday in Nipomo. More than 100 people showed up to see the Todd’s first look at the new additions, changes and upgrades made to their family home.  The energy of the crowd waiting for the family was reminiscent of the anticipation so often depicted in shows like “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s” final moments.

Simon, Ruby and the three Todd children all had smiles on their faces from the moment they pulled up to the house and were greeted by the large crowd.

“This is amazing, mind-boggling. It’s like a brand new house,” Simon Todd said.

The Todd’s were chosen from applicants to have the remodel done as part of the PolyHouse Project.  The project is an opportunity for students to work in their field and provides upgrades for families with special needs.

The couple’s youngest child, Caleb Todd, 9, has achondroplasia dwarfism which makes living in a standard home more difficult because of the reach to counters, sinks and light switches.  Achondroplasia is a bone growth disorder and the most common type of dwarfism.  As a part of the remodel students created a bedroom and bathroom perfect for Caleb Todd’s size.  Simon Todd said his son’s new bedroom was the best part for him.

“Caleb’s room is really cool. He can reach everything,” Todd said.

Caleb echoed his father’s thoughts.

In addition to Caleb’s bedroom, students added a new master bedroom and bathroom, which allowed separate bedrooms for each child, painted inside and out and re-landscaped both the front and back yards.  They even managed to work in a surprise for Ruby Todd, a remodeled the kitchen.

Long-time family friend, Melissa Brown, said every dream the family ever had for their home was realized with this one project.  Students have been working for the past 6 weeks completing that dream for the family.

The project is in its seventh year and under the supervision of Liz Shclemer, an industrial and manufacturing engineering associate professor, for the first time.  Schlemer took over the class to keep the project going while associate professor Roya Javadpour is on sabbatical.  The class is part of the department’s graduate program.

Engineering management graduate student and head of finances for the project, Chris Fung, said the project has been an experience he wouldn’t have in any other class.  The relationships, working with peers and selling the project to the community have made an impact on him, Fung said.

“The lessons learned go beyond the classroom and will leave a mark on my life,” Fung said.

Students spend most of their free time working on the project because of the complexities and labor needed to finish in such a short time.  They started planning at the beginning of the spring quarter when they chose the Todd family for this year’s project and have kept up a blog on their progress.

Schlemer said what was supposed to be done in six days ended up going for a little more than two weeks.  Students and volunteers worked long hours to complete the project by the Sunday deadline.

Schlemer said all of the funds, materials and contract labor are donated by community businesses. Protective Weather Structures, Inc. donated a new garage for the family home and Pismo Lighthouse Suites housed the Todd family for a week while the major work was being completed.  Food was also provided for students and volunteers throughout the renovation process.  Total donations added up to $150,000, Schlemer said.

Ruby Todd said she realized how many people were involved in helping the family’s dream become reality when she sat down to write thank you cards. She said she wanted to make sure everyone who helped knew how much the family appreciated all the hard work.

The family didn’t stop smiling as they toured the newly refurbished rooms where paint was still drying.  Part of the renovations included a jet bathtub in the master bathroom.  Ruby and Simon Todd were excited about their new bedroom.

“Wohoo. I’m going to need a sign that says ‘Mom’s busy in the bathtub, take a number,’” Ruby Todd said.

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