Anonymous donor buys house for sisters with rare disease

A pair of Alberta sisters and their family are moving into a new accessible home, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

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The Leavitt family currently lives in a three-storey house in Airdrie, Alta.

But the sets of stairs are a challenge for Kadence, 11, and her eight-year-old sister Addison.

Both girls have a rare degenerative disease called Fredreich's ataxia, which is causing them to slowly lose function in their hands, feet and other muscles.

"It takes away their ability to speak, to swallow, to hear, to see," the girls' mother, Shanna Leavitt, told CTV Calgary.

Because of this, Kadence and Addison often have to use wheelchairs to get around, which means the family needs a more accessible place to live.

"We use a wheelchair when we go to the mall and stuff," Shanna Leavitt said. "It's hard if there's snow outside. And this is all new to us … so we're learning."

Hoping to help, family and friends contacted the Airdrie Angel program, a local initiative dedicated to helping community members in need.

Then, the anonymous donor stepped in.

The donor, who has asked not to be named, bought the family a bungalow that can be renovated so the sisters can get around.

When Shanna Leavitt received the news, she burst into tears.

"It's amazing how generous and how big people's hearts are," she said.

Contractor Scott Werenka is helping the family remodel the home.

Werenka estimates it'll take 1-4 weeks to complete the renovations. But he needs help from other tradespeople who can volunteer their time or money to get the job done.

"We're looking at every kind of trade you can think of to help out," Werenka said. "As (Kadence and Addison) grow, I want the house to grow with them."

The Leavitts say they need to install accessible doorways, new bathrooms and a new kitchen.

And the girls have an extra request of their own: "A big bedroom," Kadence said.

The Airdrie Angel organization is hoping to raise $250,000 for the renovations before the end of the spring.

The Leavitt family plans to move into their new house in April.

With files from CTV Calgary



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