Erika Gets Extreme Makeover to Her Home

Erika Heitman, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, now has a more accessible home – thanks to the work of the nonprofit organization Welcome Home Angel.

By Zach Hanner

“A crowd of around 40 people gathered at the quaint little cottage on Carolina Beach. They chanted, “Move that lift! Move that lift,” a la “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” as a wheelchair lift climbed toward the second-floor porch of the house, carrying Erika Heitman and her wheelchair skyward.

“I’m home,” she said.

The event Tuesday was a celebration of the efforts of a number of community members, led by nonprofit organization Welcome Home Angel. The group does room makeovers for children with debilitating conditions as well as their families.

Lee Anne Heitman and her children, Erika and Christian, are the latest recipients of the group’s efforts, and this was one monumental renovation.

“We took it right down to the studs,” said Bryant Bass of Bass Built Construction, who donated his efforts and persuaded his subcontractors to do the same.

Heitman and her children have struggled of late, sharing a small space that presents challenges for Erika’s wheelchair and has found the mother sleeping on a couch. She now has her own bedroom.

Christian Heitman, who has endured numerous surgeries due to brain trauma, now has a comfortable room designed and outfitted for his favorite pursuit, video gaming.

Erika, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition in which skin and tissue are extremely elastic and results in frequent dislocation of joints, now has a room that is bright and colorful, highlighted with her favorite zebra print. The shelves are reachable, and the bathroom at the end of the hall features a wide door and open layout, the entire home.” made accessible to Erika’s wheelchair.”

Erika can now live more comfortably in her home – with improvements made by the Welcome Home Angel organization.

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