Colorado’s Own Extreme Home Makeover!

To see the story on Channel 4, Click Here: CBS Channel 4 Pay It Forward

Boulder County Business Reporter Article

Happy Heather

This is the first of several projects we hope to do to help make Heather’s home more wheelchair accessible. To donate funds to Heather Gardner-Muir go to: to the heading “pay on line” and “send money” if will lead you to a screen asking for her e-mail address: . You can also e-mail her  if you would like to help in some other way.

Donations can also be mailed to:

Heather Gardner  c/o Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, Inc.

2500 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite 290, Boulder, CO 80302

A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the following local companies for donating to this project. We appreciate their community involvement and lending a hand to Heather and her family.

Thank you to ALL the Supporters – see them

Another HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the nationally know company Trex for supplying their product to build the deck. Trex® is made from about 50 percent recycled and reclaimed plastic, and 50 percent reclaimed wood. These materials would otherwise go unused in landfills. Using sustainable materials and green manufacturing processes is a policy that touches everything they do.

Other Thanks go out to:



  • Thank you to ZCOIL for donating a pair of shoes to Heather!
  • “Do you suffer from Foot, Leg or Back Pain? You CAN be pain free!

Keep going – great photos of wonderful people to come!

Phase 1 of the Project is complete!

Thank you to everyone who came out for Phase One of the Project! We just completed digging all the holes and getting the site ready for the first inspection. May 30, 2009 will be the second phase, pouring concrete, and June 6, 2009 is the big day to build the porch. Thank you to all the individuals who came out to help, and a special thanks to Suzanne McCarroll and her cameraman Bill at CBS Channel 4 News and the Pay It Forward program for their generous $1000 donation. It has been a blast so far and amazing to see what can be accomplished when people come together. If you want to join in with labor or donations, or if you just want to come out on June 6th and meet Heather, a phenomenal woman, please join us!

Heather Gardner-Muir 5.22.09HeatherSANSglasses

Malcolm Oliver operating heavy machinery!  This job went a lot faster thanks to the power drill (not sure of the technical name of the tool!!!!)

Malcolm Oliver and Glen on the drill 5.22.09

John DeLassus and Diana Barney addressing a sprinkler issue.  Thank you, John for drawing up the plans!John DeLassus-Diana Barney

Craig Malley (Token like he’d had ten cups of coffee.  Speedy and with gusto!  Thanks a bunch!

Craig Malley-Token Loon

Jason Markel,

Jason Markel

Our youngest helper, Nick

Youngest Helper: Nick

Friends/crew working hard!

Friends Crew

Erin Pass and the Smiling Moose from Smiling Moose Deli, thank you for donating lunch!


Suzanne McCarroll Channel 4 CBS News Pay It Forward and Heather Gardner-Muir

Suzanne McCarroll Channel 4 News Pay It Forward

Erin Pass, Jeanie Johnson, Suzanne McCarroll Channel 4 News Pay It Forward, and Nahid Cohen

Suzanne McCarroll-Erin-Jeanie

Phase 2 of The Project has been completed!

Thank You Everyone! Thank you to everyone who came out to lend a helping hand, a trailor hitch, their tools, their sweat, and their moral support. We finished Phase 2 in building the porch and wheelchair ramp which required A LOT of cement and very awesome, cool people.  I am so impressed at how fast we completed the tasks and how well it came together. Thank you to Sutherland’s for donating all the supplies for Work Day 2 and Home Depot for the gift certificate we used to rent the mixer. Thanks also to Starbuck’s for donating coffee, Einstein Brother’s Bagels for breakfast, and the Spicey Pickle for an awesome lunch. And to all those who came out, you rock! You are an amazing community who has come together to make a wonderful difference in someone’s life. I am truly touched as is Heather. Erin Pass

Concrete, the central theme of our day!concrete

Tim Hillmer and Gregory Menvielle Hillmer-Greg Menvielle

The dirty work.  Thank you Tim Hillmer, Scott Knauer, and Gregory Menvielle!

Dirty Work

John DeLassus has been with this project the whole way!!


Alan-HusbandHeather’s husband, Alan, digging in.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody had to do it!  He’s digging a trench for the end of the ramp to sit in.  We had architect, Peter Stewart there, fine tuning the design to make sure the structure will be stable, functional, and stand the test of time!

Heather and her daughter, Cailin . . . supervising!CailinMuirandHeatherGardner-Muire

Phase 2’s Work Group!  You rocked!  We expected this to take all day and they knocked it out in about three hours! It was really amazing to see the teamwork.  Thanks everyone!


Phase 3, “D Day” Project DEMOLITION, Accomplished!

Leave it to well accomplished contractors like Jason Markel of Markel Homes, Craig Malley of Token Loon, and Glenn Hamby of Hambilt Construction Co, LLC, along with rockin’ wood worker, Malcolm Oliver to plan ahead.  Although Work Day 3 was scheduled for Saturday, these guys thought it best to rip out the existing deck and get the preliminary work out of the way on Friday.  Jason Markel also enrolled Jason Hawk of Hawk Nest Construction Recycling on the project.  Jason Hawk goes to construction sites and finds ways to recycle approximately seventy percent of all materials and keeps it out of our landfills.  Thank you, Jason Hawk for making this a Green Project!


Malcolm Oliver, hard at work.


The delivery of the goods.  Thank you Jason Markel of Markel Homes, Trex, and Alpine Lumber  Wow!!!!!!!!!


Jason Hawk, keeping our landfills empty by recycling construction products.  Thanks!

Jason Hawk -landfills clear

Phase 4 of The Project!

Well, I’m not sure where to start.  I am overwhelmed by the generousity between neighbors and friends.  Sometimes, you just have to ask, or put the word out for what you need, and ask people for help.  Try it, you’ll be surprised.  Over thirty people turned up.  Everyone helped in their own way.  Many hopped in with hammers, nails, compressors, BIG scary (in my opinion!) saws, levelers, etc.; others baked yummy treats and brought beverages; and some people just came to meet their neighbors and be a part of an amazing and wonderful experience.  I was shocked.  What if everyone did this?  What if every time a friend or neighbor had a project, everyone chipped in?  It would go so fast.   We built a porch today.  It went so fast it was shocking, and everyone who was there wanted in on it.  All you have to do is ask.  Truly, I am moved and inspired.  THANK YOU, everyone.  Thank you Einstein Brother’s Bagels, Starbucks, and Smiling Moose Deli’s for food and drink.

Everyone went straight to work.

Straight to Work  dewalt-circular  deck-supports

Kirstie Reichers, Megan Forbes, and Erin Pass


Chip Connolly, EC-3 Construction, Alex Cassidy, Jason Markel, and John DeLassus.  The precision with the ramp was impressive.

Chip Connolly EC3

The woman of the hour, Mrs. Heather Gardner-Muir.

Heather Muir

The quiet sets in, everyone has left for today, tomorrow we will return to finish up.  Go Alan!

Quiet Sets In

Work Day 5:  Pretty Much There!

You know, it just gets better and better. All these awesome people came back again today. They dedicated their whole weekend to building this porch and ramp and nothing was half way. A few things are still left to be completed – the railing isn’t on yet because Chip Connolly, the contractor with EC-3 Construction and a friend of the Muir’s wanted it to be more than just functional, he wants it to be beautiful and is sourcing some metal railing. Other than that, it’d pretty much done, and Heather took her first roll down the ramp. Glenn Hamby with Hambilt Construction Co., LLC was back again today. He did an amazing job cutting all the pieces – as you will see with the photos of the last piece going in. That was a cool moment. John DeLassus, Diana Barney, and Lyn Fix spent HOURS making sure every peice of flagstone was perfectly aligned and perfectly level. This project wasn’t just about function, it was a labor of love. I’m not sure who is happier, Heather or me. This project has profoundly affected my life. Who’s up for a neighborhood block party?

Heather Gardner-Muir, Alan Muir, and Chip Connolly of EC-3 Construction.  Chip is amazing.  He wants to do all the extras and give it those fine special touches to make it unique for Heather and Alan.


Lyn Fix and John DeLassus making sure the jigsaw, flagstone puzzle fits together just right!

LynFix-John   Last Piece

The very last piece!  Holy Canoly, very cool.  Glenn Hamby of Hambilt Construction made sure every cut was perfect.

Last Piece-HolyCanoly

Lyn Fix and Diana Barney waiting for Heather to come out for her first ride on the new deck.


Go Heather!!!!

Heather on Ramp

Erin Pass and Heather Gardner-Muir.  It is amazing to see something come to life after talking about it for such a long time.  Thank you everyone, for all your hard work!

Erin n Heather-Hug

The crew for Work Day 5!  (Back Row) Alan Muir, Paul Rosen, John DeLassus, Glenn Hamby, and Lyn Fix, (Middle Row) Heather Gardner-Muir, Kelsey and Cailin Muir, (Front Row) Diana Barney, cute kids!, Chip Connolly.

Crew for the Day

The Muir family.

Muir Family

(To learn more about Heather Gardner-Muir, scroll down to the story below).


Dear Friends,

Many of you have seen Heather in my office.  She has had a rough few years.  Attached are newspaper articles from the Boulder Daily Camera and The Lousiville Times to bring attention to Heather’s situation.  If anyone would like to donate their time and skills to make home improvements or to drive her to appointments, I know Heather and her family would be very grateful.  We have also set up a paypal account in Heather’s name if you prefer to make a financial donation.

To donate funds to Heather Gardner go to: to the heading “pay on line” and “send money” if will lead you to a screen asking for her e-mail address: You can also e-mail her at this address if you would like to help in some other way.

Donations can also be mailed to:

Heather Gardner

c/o Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, Inc.

2500 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite 290

Boulder, CO  80302

Please pass this along to any friends and family who might be interested in contributing.

Porch makeover organized for Louisville woman – Boulder Daily Camera.

Community rallying around former teacher who needs wheelchair ramp

By Amy Bounds
Sunday, May 24, 2009


Photo by Cliff Grassmick

Heather Gardner, right, talks with John deLassus while Malcolm Oliver works in the background. Friends and neighbors of Heather Gardner are building a wheelchair ramp at her home in Louisville. She was injured in a car accident in 2003 and can’t leave her house without help.

How to help

Heather Gardner is seeking donated materials and people willing to help build a wheelchair accessible ramp and porch at her Louisville home. Concrete is expected to be poured Saturday May 30, 2009 and the porch built June 6.  To help, call Erin Pass at 303-665-5515.   For more information, go

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Heather Gardner battled her way back to mobility from a sledding mishap only to be sidelined again by a car accident in 2003 that aggravated her previous back injuries. Eight surgeries and two major hospital infections later, the former Louisville Middle and Fairview High teacher says she is learning to live with chronic pain. The 46-year-old uses a wheelchair and a walker to get around, but the Louisville home she shares with her husband and two daughters isn’t wheelchair-friendly.  So friend and Boulder acupuncturist Erin Pass decided to organize a local version of an “Extreme Home

Makeover” to address the most pressing problem: Gardner’s inability to get out of her house without help. Pass is looking for volunteers willing to help build Gardner a wheelchair ramp and new porch over the next couple weekends.

“I haven’t been able to go anywhere without a ride from someone for years,” Gardner said. “I could use my electric scooter to get a cup of coffee downtown. It would give me just a little bit of personal freedom.”  Pass said the project also is an opportunity to “show Heather all the people who love and care about her and that there is a community of people all around her, ready to help and to just be a friend.”

“What she’s been through could happen to anyone,” Pass said.  Gardner said her chronic pain started after a cortisone injection following her accident hit a nerve root, causing a chemical lesion. Now, every time she moves her leg, she’s hit with searing pain.  “It’s like hitting my funny bone every time my foot touches the floor,” she said.  She tried surgery, but it didn’t alleviate the pain and, three days later, she wound up back in the hospital with a staph infection in her spine. She spent the next 12 weeks in the hospital and was hit with a second bacterial infection. As she got weaker during her hospital stay, she said, she gave up on life.  With family and friends encouraging her to keep going, she recovered.

But she still was forced to give up her previous athletic lifestyle as an avid hiker and runner who ran marathons.

She also gave up teaching, retiring in 2004 from Fairview where she taught English in the International Baccalaureate program.

“After every surgery, I thought I would be able to go back to teaching,” she said. “I loved teaching. I miss having that outlet.”  She isn’t able to drive and depends on a bus service and friends to help her down the steps on her porch and get her to many doctor appointments.  “It’s hard to continue to ask for help,” she said.  Her ongoing medical problems have been tough on her family and their finances, she said. Her husband, who’s a teacher at Louisville Middle School, has taken on all the errands and household chores.  “He’s pretty worn out,” she said. Medical bills also have stacked up, leaving no money to pay for home improvements like a wheelchair ramp.  Pass, who has treated Gardner for seven years, said she hopes the renovations won’t stop with the new porch.  Gardner said it’s difficult to kiss her daughters goodnight because their rooms are down steps. Her kitchen counters are too high for her to cook from a wheelchair, while her bathroom doors are too narrow to allow clearance for a wheelchair or walker.

“I want to make things easier for her,” Pass said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Amy Bounds at 303-473-1341 or

© 2006 Daily Camera and Boulder Publishing, LLC.


Heatheri Muir

Retired Louisville teacher Heather Gardner shows the crutches she must use to get around at her home,

on Tuesday, Dec. 2. Gardner was in a car accident in 2003, which led to nerve damage and a series of surgeries.

She now has trouble getting around her home, which is not built to accommodate a resident with disabilities.

Colorado Hometown Newspapers/Chalan Harper.

Climbing up the mountain
One accident changed a Louisville teacher’s life forever

By Chalan Harper
Colorado Hometown Newspapers

 One moment, one event, can change everything — it’s a reality Louisville’s Heather Gardner knows all too well.

For Gardner, a former teacher at Louisville Middle School and Fairview High School, that moment came on May 16, 2003, when she was rear-ended by a driver going 65 miles-per-hour.

Prior to her accident, Gardner, now 46, was a self-admitted exercise junkie. Every morning before work, Gardner could be found out running. She was also an avid marathon runner and hiker. She and her husband even worked together to build a house, on their own, in the mountains.

For Gardner, the moment her vehicle was struck changed everything.

Gardner suffered severe back and nerve pain after the accident, which left her unable to find the stress-relief she needed in athletics

“I couldn’t walk without falling; I was hurting,” Gardner said this week from her Louisville home.

At the advice of her doctors, Gardner began taking an series of cortisone injections and nerve blocks between the discs of her spine.

Gardner’s acupuncturist, Erin Pass, said this week Gardner’s tenacity began to return as she took the injections.

“She’s someone who has a really strong will,” Pass said. “No matter how tired she was, she stayed up late grading papers. I kept saying, ‘Take care of yourself,’ but for her, taking care of others was her thing.”

Her final cortisone injection, however, turned the tables on Gardner once more.

“The last cortisone shot I had, I practically jumped off the table,” Gardner said. “They hit a nerve root and created a chemical lesion around that nerve root.”

Now faced with even more pain than before, due to the lesion, doctors recommended Gardner undergo surgery in December 2004, to relieve the pressure around that nerve.

That surgery would be the precursor to seven more surgeries in an 18-month span.

During one of those surgeries, Gardner developed a staph infection in her spine, which required yet more surgery to clean the area and remove the bad tissue. Gardner was also saddled with a port, implanted in her arm, that allowed her to use intravenous antibiotics at home.

As her medical treatments progressed, Gardner found that, more and more, use of her right foot was dwindling, and everyday tasks — doing the laundry, grocery shopping, and even kissing her two daughters goodnight — was excruciating.

“She breaks into a sweat every time she goes down the stairs,” Pass said.

In addition to the pain, Gardner was taking nearly 50 pills per day to deal with everything from pain to drowsiness that came from several of the medications she was taking.

“Basically, I was just in bed,” Gardner said. “I got up everyday, but I was so foggy. I was on all these medications and so very sedated and I still couldn’t walk.”

Before the accident, Gardner taught language arts at LMS, and then became an English teacher at Fairview High, in Boulder.

As a result of her pain and ongoing medical care, Gardner was forced to give up not only athletics, but her teaching career as well. She resigned her teaching post at Fairview, retiring on disability.

“I loved it, but that was the next thing I lost after I lost athletics — I lost my job,” Gardner lamented.

With two children and a husband, the family dynamic within the house changed. Gardner’s husband, also a local teacher, was then tasked with doing many of the everyday activities Gardner had managed on her own.

Because she cannot use her right foot to drive, her husband takes both of their daughters to their activities, does the grocery shopping and does laundry as well, as the wash room is downstairs in their home.

“He has to do a lot and it’s hard on him, definitely,” Gardner said.

But, the family has stuck together despite the changes and growing financial concerns.

“My husband’s a teacher and now I’m on disability, we have to pay, at this point, 28 different clinics, hospitals and labs,” Gardner said. “It’s a huge chunk of our income.”

As someone who was competitive and stubborn, finding herself in medical and financial straits almost broke Gardner.

“Through all this time, I just got weaker and weaker and weaker,” Gardner said. “At one point (while in the hospital), I said goodbye to the world.”

With her doctor and family willing her to survive, Gardner is doing everything she can to adjust to her new lifestyle. Gardner uses forearm crutches, a walker and a wheelchair to get around, though her Louisville home has small doorways and stairs, making it nearly impossible for her to get to the lower level, her loft study, or even in the bathroom.

 For Pass, whom Gardner calls an “angel,” the situation is frustrating. Pass has treated Gardner every week for about six years, even coming to Gardner’s home for treatments when she could not get a ride. In that time, and because Gardner was Pass’s first paying patient, they’ve become close friends. Pass said this week her Christmas wish list would include donated funds or labor from the community, to help with Gardner’s situation.

In an effort to help the family with their needs, Pass has set up a fund for the Gardners.

“She needs help to make her world manageable and liveable,” Pass said. “I want her to able to kiss her kids goodnight. I want her to have a month where she doesn’t have to worry about affording her medications…I want things to be easier for her.”

Monetary donations for the Gardner family may be mailed to: Heather Gardner, c/o The Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, 2500 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite 290, Boulder, Colo., 80302.

For those looking to provide more information, or perhaps have contacts for the family regarding their house issues, please e-mail


If you have an idea for a project, let us know!  We’d like to help!