Lake Zurich's village board gave a public thank-you this week to a neighborhood that pitched in to build a new backyard deck for a local family's autistic child.
Mayor Suzanne Branding said she was touched by the outpouring of support for Larry and Kelly Brodeur and their 10-year-old boy, Harrison. Some neighbors noticed deterioration in the deck they knew Harrison enjoyed and took it upon themselves to construct a new one.
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Branding said she was at Harrison's house when the deck was unveiled last Saturday. She thanked those who participated for being "such good neighbors."
"I don't think there was a dry eye there on Saturday," Branding said. "It's such a nice thing to see and especially ... before Thanksgiving."
Neighbors Julie Parchment and Mark Bajor, a Lake Zurich firefighter, participated in the volunteer effort and were invited to tell the village board about it Monday. Parchment said she's seen how the Brodeurs have struggled with Harrison and always wanted to do something to help the couple.
"Harrison loves to be outside," Parchment said. "I see him outside all the time. And their deck was crumbling. So, I decided to see if my neighbors were on board to see how we could all help as a community."
Parchment approached Bajor, who recruited firefighters and others for the project. He also received donations of deck materials, landscaping, labor, a grill and gift certificates from Lake Zurich businesses.
Bajor said his son, who attends Lake Zurich Middle School South with the Brodeurs' daughter, Brianna, also took up the cause. He said his son got several boys together about three weeks ago to help tear down the Brodeurs' old deck, so construction on the new one could begin.
"The biggest thing is, it just amazed me," Bajor said of the volunteers. "I've been a firefighter here for a long time. I've been in the community a long time. My wife teaches here also, so we're part of it. But this project just showed me how much the community comes together."
Parchment said her daughter, Emmy, and neighborhood children raised more than $400 from a cupcake sale and donated all of the cash to Chicago Education Project in Hoffman Estates, which drew applause from those at village hall Monday. Lake Zurich Unit District 95 placed Harrison with the nonprofit Chicago Education Project, which provides clinical and school-based services for children with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities.
Kelly Brodeur expressed gratitude for all her family received from the volunteers.
"Never did we expect something like this for us," said Brodeur, who like the rest of her family wore a yellow "Help for Harrison" T-shirt at Monday's meeting. "No one will ever know how much we appreciate everything that everybody has done."