Tyler Jacobs’ mom and dad wanted something to make him smile.
Wow. They got a smile so big it spread to a yardful of people on a hot day in August.
Even a few smiles covered by a hand over the mouth.
It started with Tyler, 12, coming out of the front door of the family’s home near Kingsville, Mo., on Wednesday afternoon wearing a really cool white construction hard hat with his name on it.
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OK, good start.
Hand in hand with his parents, he walked across the lawn. They’d kept him inside that morning, but he knew something was going on out there. He’s nonverbal, can’t hear and can barely see because of CHARGE syndrome, but his sense that tells him there’s a bunch of people out in the yard works just fine.
Then Tyler, who likes his iPad and tire swing, was at the front steps of what was billed as a new trilevel tree house, but is really more of a little house next to a tree. Deck, loft, upstairs, downstairs, windows. Got to be Tyler’s house — his name’s on the front door, and the ReeceNichols sign says “Sold.”
Finally, he’s kicking a soccer ball with Sporting KC goalie Tim Melia.
Not bad, Mom and Dad. Goal.
After the initial tour of the house, Stephanie Jacobs, Tyler’s mom, stepped out onto the porch and smiled.
“He loves it,” she said.
The big crowd under the tree, the ones who made this Make-A-Wish gift possible, clapped and cheered.
Stephanie Hampton-Boeglin of Make-A-Wish Missouri gave shoutouts to BRR Architecture, Turner Construction, Home Depot, Flynn Midwest, ReeceNichols and Assa Abloy.
Everyone involved and all the planning, she said, started with knowing Tyler. The house was designed with him in mind.
“They took Tyler’s vision and put it to paper,” she said. “A lot of people came together for a very special little boy.”
DeJ’on Slaughter of Turner Construction Co.-Kansas City said construction took about 700 man hours.
“We were taking guys off other projects to get this done for Tyler,” Slaughter said. “This place is probably bigger than my apartment.”
Tyler’s dad, Brian Jacobs, shook his head at the whole thing.
“All these people did this for my son,” he said. “And here they are coming up and thanking me. It’s amazing.”
Tyler was born with CHARGE syndrome, which refers to a specific set of birth defects and developmental issues affecting the heart, organs and senses — touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste.
It occurs once in about 8,000 to 10,000 births. The term for combined vision and hearing deficits is “deafblind.” Many have decreased cognitive abilities, but intelligence of children is often underestimated because of hearing, vision and balance issues.
“Tyler went straight into surgery the day he was born to connect his esophagus to his stomach,” Stephanie Jacobs said. “He’s had 15 surgeries total.”
He breathes with a trach tube. He’s smart, excelling at math. He’s learning sign language. He didn’t want to leave school. He liked playing with the other kids.
Now, he’s homeschooled by Mom. He has problems with balance but likes to run, swing and play with his two dogs, Jack and Logan.
“He’s my gift,” Stephanie Jacobs said. “He wakes up smiling every morning, even when he has difficulty breathing. He’s the most persevering person I’ve ever known.”
When told she has a great attitude, she smiled.
“He gave it to me.”
Donald Bradley, 816-234-4182