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A top-to-bottom reno suprises Aldergrove woman with cancer

It was supposed to just be a bathroom and a kitchen, but then people started stepping up

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, Sydney Stenberg came home.

She arrived back to find the Aldergrove house she and her husband Cam shared with her parents, Ken and Corinna Wiebe, had been transformed.

She was speechless, then a little teary-eyed, and so was her family.

Inside, both upstairs and downstairs, had been completely redone.

New appliances, new plumbing, new wiring, new floors, ceilings, walls and windows, with professional decorators making each room look like a show home.

There were Christmas trees on both floors, and Christmas lights outside.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Home of Aldergrove woman battling cancer is getting a major makeover

About all that was left of the original house was the siding and the roof, the result of more than 40 days of intense work by volunteers and donor companies coordinated by the Langley-based LifeApp charity.

With her husband, Sydney, who has an inoperable form of clival chordoma, a rare and malignant type of spinal cancer, had to move in with her parents, living in an unfinished basement, in a house that had become somewhat run down because of the financial burden of her illness on the family.

Their wishes were modest. A finished downstairs with a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and, maybe, a kitchen.

LifeApp co-directors Jonathan and Teresa Penner said that was all they intended, at first.

“When we took on the project we told Mom and Dad we could only do the basement,” Teresa recalled.

But then, people wanted to do more.

Some of the many volunteers who worked on the ‘Shower Sydney With Love’ renovation project. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Some of the many volunteers who worked on the ‘Shower Sydney With Love’ renovation project. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

“And very quickly as we took over the house, the flooring supplier said they wanted to supply the entire house and the painter wanted to paint the entire house,” Teresa explained.

“It mushroomed,” Jonathan remarked, “in a good way.”

Eventually, more than 80 companies contributed to the project, donating materials and time that Jonathan estimated was worth around $200,000 of in-kind contributions.

He believes it is probably the largest project LifeApp has ever been involved with.

One contractor, who had ALS, directed his crew from a walker while they tore out old concrete and poured replacements.

He told the Penners he had never come on a job site and “experienced the community spirit of trades helping trades” as he had at the Aldergrove site.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: How dozens of volunteers helped a Langley stroke survivor come home

Jonathan gave a shout-out to the Township of Langley, “their home inspectors and their whole team responded quickly. They were so generous with their time.”

“We couldn’t have done it without the Township,” Teresa added.

After touring the house, grateful mom Corinna stood on the steps and told the volunteers she had something to say to them.

 “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, adding “words cannot express” their gratitude.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign by LifeApp to help “Shower Sydney With Love” has, as of Wednesday, Dec. 22, raised a little more than $46,000 toward its $75,000 goal.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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