Hutchinson students to build accessible home for coach who suffered spinal cord injury

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Clayton Evans had an unexpected spinal cord injury that would change his life in July.

“The first night there, I knew. He couldn’t feel anything. He couldn’t move anything. I knew his legs weren’t going to work,” said Melissa Evans, his wife.

Once Evans was asleep, she started looking at house options, knowing their lives would be different.

“We love our community, but there’s just nothing for sale right now that is wheelchair accessible or even easily modified chair accessible,” she said.

Clayton is a softball coach for Hutchinson High School, along with other duties on campus.

As a big part of USD 308, one of the district’s programs thought of a way to offer some relief.

Hutchinson Public Schools partners with Hutchinson Community College in their building trade program to construct a new house every year to put on the market.

This year that home will be designed and made specifically for the Evans Family and Clayton’s needs.

“The Evans are part of our 308 family. We wanted to help them,” said Travis Riebel, director of Career and Technical Education for Hutchinson Schools.

On Monday, the Board of Education unanimously voted to let them make the house for Evans.

Thirty students in the program will create a wheelchair-accessible home.

“Those are skills and things we need for both the commercial industries, as well as the residential industry. So we feel our students are going to gain a lot not only by helping the Evans family but also with this build and what they’re going to learn in the process,” Riebel said.

The family will be able to focus on Evans’ recovery instead of worrying about where they will live.

“It’s really hard to have hope for the future when you can’t see what the looks like. That approval on Monday, now, the hope for the future is real,” Evans said. “There is something so cool, so symbolic. I think about the fact that we’ll come home every night to a house, literally built by our Salthawk family.”

The program is waiting on approval for permits. Once that happens, they could break ground by next week with a finish date aimed at the end of the school year.

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