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7’s Hero: Treasure Valley development company remodels a family's home to help a father of 18 with ALS

Tommy Ahlquist of BVA Development offered to renovate the Barrus family home for free, and companies all over the Treasure Valley pitched in to help.

BOISE, Idaho — In November of 2019, we brought you the story of the Barrus Family of Boise. Bridget and Ben Barrus have 18 children, 14 of whom are adopted. They are champions for foster care and adoption.

Last year, Ben was diagnosed with A-L-S, which was a devastating blow to this growing family. The disease is progressing quickly, and they were really struggling because their home wasn't handicapped accessible for Ben's wheelchair. He just couldn't get around safely.

That's when a local businessman and developer stepped in and saved the day for the family of 18. BVA Development CEO Tommy Ahlquist was so touched by the Barrus’ story, that he offered to renovate the home at no charge, an unbelievable act of generosity.

MORE: Boise family with 18 children is battling a devastating diagnosis and leaning on their faith

Credit: The Barrus Family
KTVB's Maggie O'Mara brought us the story of the Barrus family in November. The family was in need of help, after dad Ben Barrus was diagnosed with ALS. He was unable to get around their home in his wheelchair.

“To have someone step in and say you guys are awesome, we want to give this to you, that was really overwhelming and humbling for us. It's hard to accept help sometimes, and we were in a position where we just couldn't do it without help,” Bridget said.

Months later, the remodel is now done, thanks to BVA and dozens of local subcontractors and companies who also stepped in to help.

Credit: The Barrus Family
This is the Barrus family home after the renovation. BVA Development and other local businesses pitched in to help make the home ADA accessible for Ben Barrus, who is battling rapidly progressing ALS.

RELATED: Boise businessman helps family of 18 get the home renovations needed for father with terminal disease

“Well, the home you are standing in now looks nothing like the home that we started with back in November,” Bridget said while sitting next to her husband Ben in their newly renovated home. “We got the call from Tommy who said, 'Hey, I want to help.' From there, we have an accessible bathroom, an accessible master bedroom, an accessible kitchen, which really allows us to live as a family.”

The remodel meant the family had to move out of their home for two months. Not an easy feat with so many children, their dogs, and Ben’s mom in tow. To make matters even more complicated, this all happened right when the coronavirus pandemic forced much of the state to shut down.

“We stayed in a hotel for 54 days. We had eight rooms, three floors, and we ate meals together in a conference room,” said Bridget Barrus about hotel living. “We used crockpots, Instapots, people brought food in for us, it was crazy.”

Credit: The Barrus Family
The Barrus family lived in a hotel for almost two months during the remodel, and had family meals in this conference room.

Now, they are finally back home. Ben is able to move around the main level of the house in his wheelchair, he has a bathroom set up just for him, and the kitchen is large enough for him to navigate. He can be with the family for meals and games around the family’s kitchen table.

“We're really happy that they are back in,” Ahlquist said. “We just knew immediately we could help them, that’s the kind of people we have working at BVA.”

On Thursday, there was a parade in front of the Barrus house with all of the people who pitched in. BVA, dozens of subcontractors, and businesses took part. The Ada County Sheriff’s Department even helped with an escort.

“Originally we probably would have had a big celebration here, but with COVID and social distancing, we had a parade. A parade was fitting with the family there it got pretty emotional,” Ahlquist explained. “All the contractors were so excited to celebrate with the Barrus family, and it was cool to have them come by. Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett sent his troops too, so want to thank all of them for coming today. Here we are in the middle of a crisis, and they are still giving. It says a lot about this area and the Treasure Valley.”

WATCH BELOW: Boise family with 18 children is battling a devastating diagnosis and leaning on their faith

The family was overwhelmed with the turnout.

“They went out of their way to make it extremely special,” Ben said. “To see Tommy and his team, and all the subcontractors and the community that has just enveloped our family with love. Our children's friends and teachers and coaches, who have been the emotional support we have needed throughout this journey were there. So, we feel well-loved and supported and we are incredibly grateful for all of it.”

Each parade participant received a special gift from the family

“It is a picture of our family, and it says thank you for being such an important piece of our story,” Bridget said. “Because we couldn't have done this without them.” 

For the Barrus family, thank you will never be enough.

“We felt hopeless, we didn't have the answers we needed, we didn't have the resources we needed, and it all hit so fast. And when I tell you we were hopeless we spent many nights crying to the Lord to answer our prayers,” Bridget said through tears. “Tommy, you gave us hope, not that things would be healed, but that we would be able to overcome it.”

Ahlquist told KTVB that it was his honor to be a part of this family’s journey.

“It’s super emotional for me because there are so many people that this family blesses,” said Ahlquist. “I don't know if they realize it, but from the moment you meet them you just walk away and say - wow.”

The Barrus family told us they will soak in every moment they have left with their dad right there in their newly remodeled home, surrounding him with love.

Here’s a list of all of the companies that donated to this incredible project:

Food Donations 

  • Capitol Distributing/ Jackson’s
  • Growler’s Pizza
  • Goodwood BBQ
  • Boise River Fence

Construction 

  • Bravo Development Construction and Demolition
  • United Site Services
  • ESI Construction
  • A & Z Development
  • JC Drywall
  • Franklin Building Supply
  • Advanced Heating and Cooling
  • Energy Enterprise Group
  • Mesa Tile and Stone
  • Designer Floors
  • Patcraft
  • Best Bath Designs
  • Overhead Doors
  • Sawtooth Concepts
  • LG Appliances / Midley-Huber, Inc
  • Buss Mechanical Services
  • Color Craft
  • Ferguson Show Rooms
  • Okland Construction
  • Howard Building Maintenance
  • Boise River Fence
  • Western Idaho Cabinets
  • Republic Services

Donors

  • Access Vans
  • Candlewood Suites
  • PODS

Watch more '7's Hero'

See all of the heartwarming segments in our YouTube playlist here: