Volunteers build hope
by Glenn Moore
Mar 22, 2013 | 4240 views | 1 1 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Helping hands
Michael Medeiros (from left) helps brothers John and Louie Melo of Melo Construction Inc. add concrete to wooden forms for a handicap-accessible bathroom at Medeiros’ home on Friday, March 15. The project will allow 13-year-old Patrick Medeiros, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, to navigate his wheelchair more easily through the home.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Patrick Medeiros watched from his wheelchair at the edge of his parents’ backyard Friday, March 15, as a crew poured concrete into wooden forms that will eventually be part of his new bedroom.

The 13-year-old was excited as the work to give him more space for his wheelchair was getting started.

“It’s pretty cool, I get a little bit more room,” Patrick said. “It’s nice, the bigger space. I come outside a lot.”

Patrick was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was 6 years old.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association describes the disease as a genetic disorder with progressive muscle degeneration and weakness that affects the heart and respiratory system by the early teen years.

Life expectancy with the disease is often only into the 30s or 40s.

To make life easier for the family, John, Paul and Louie Melo from Melo Construction Inc. are starting work on an expansion of Patrick’s home. It’s a project close to their hearts — Patrick is the son of a longtime family friend.

Close to the heart

Friends with Michael Medeiros for more than 30 years, John Melo, 36, said he still remembers the day Medeiros told him about Patrick’s diagnosis.

“It was the first time I saw Mike cry,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The news was especially difficult to hear, as Patrick is John Melo’s godson.

Medeiros, along with his wife, Lorraine, and their other children, Logan and Cole, had been living in Salida since 1998 in a two-story home. But as Patrick’s disease progressed, he had to start using a wheelchair at age 11, making everyday tasks a challenge.

The family moved back to Tracy in 2007 and settled into its 1,147-square-foot one-story, three-bedroom house in 2010.

But navigating the house, which is more than 50 years old, proved difficult for Patrick.

“We had wanted to build a larger bathroom, because it was too small,” Lorraine Medeiros said. “My husband has to lift Patrick.”

The Melo brothers began planning this past summer to expand the Medeiros home with a new master bedroom with a handicap-accessible bathroom. They will also make the living room larger and add a patio with a wheelchair ramp.

Paul Melo, 32, said construction began in mid-December and will add 364 square feet to the living space, along with a 336-square-foot covered patio to give Patrick much-needed room and more independence.

“We all have kids, and you see someone who has a child with challenges — we are just trying to help them live a life as normal as possible,” Paul Melo said. “We take things for granted. We forget the challenges they face every day.”

No cheap fix

A fundraiser dinner in July by Tracy’s Our Lady of Fatima raised $30,000 for the project.

Paul Melo said the price tag for a renovation of this sort could reach $150,000, but Melo Construction and many others are donating services or materials.

He said the support has been overwhelming — 90 percent of the labor has been donated.

“Everything everybody does is helping,” Paul Melo said. “For the family to have friends in the community is a blessing.”

Subcontractors that have helped lessen the costs include Home Depot, Pinnacle Roofing, Windham Painting, AirZone Heating and Air Conditioning, Stacy Plastering and Gary’s Flooring.

And Marble Palace supplied a shower large enough to fit Patrick’s wheelchair for half price.

“When you get subcontractors donating, it is awesome to see,” John Melo said. “We thought that people in the trade, for a good cause, that it wouldn’t be a problem. It was just awesome to see the help.”

Melo Construction took care of the plans, permits, plumbing, electrical and framing work for the expansion.

The construction should take four or five months to complete, and Paul Melo said they are still looking for help.

John Melo said he and his family members are happy to be a part of the project.

“Life is hard enough. If I can, I’ll donate a little bit of sweat, a little bit of money and make things easier for them,” he said. “It’s a little bit more special to me with my godson. Mike is like a brother to me, and the family is very appreciative.”

Watching the first concrete forms being filled on Friday, Lorraine Medeiros expressed her thanks.

“It was hard when he (Patrick) was diagnosed — I lost faith,” she said. “But the outpouring of support has restored my faith. We’re lucky to be part of the community.”

• Contact Glenn Moore at 835 3030 or gmoore@tracypress.com.



At a glance

A team led by Melo Construction Inc. is renovating the Medeiros family home to help Patrick Medeiros, 13, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age 6 and uses a wheelchair.

• Anyone who wants to donate materials or labor can call Melo Construction, 835-7314.

• Donations can be made through Tracy Our Lady of Fatima Church, c/o Patrick Medeiros, P.O. Box 1617, Tracy, CA 95376.
Comments
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Loriksouza
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March 22, 2013
Wow! What an awesome & amazing thing. I've always known what an amazing community we live in, John and his family are another example of that. I've known John since we were 12 years old and since he was my older brothers friend, I could say I thought they were all mean guys. But 20 plus years later I could not be more proud. All those boys grew up and if you look around our community, they are doing so much work here!! So proud of you John!! You surround yourself with amazing people and do amazing things...Lori Souza


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