Aug 24, 2012 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Dave Peek and his wife, Michelle, bought their home on Kastor Avenue in the village of Camillus with plans to fix it up.
They couldn’t have planned for what happened next.
“The second we had our daughter, Sarah, there were a lot of medical complications, and life just changed,” Dave Peek said. “All of our priorities changed.”
Sarah would be diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension nearly three years later. The disease is described by the PH Association as an increase in blood pressure in the lungs that, if left untreated, can lead to heart failure.
There is no known cure for the illness, but through advanced treatments, Sarah was able to live five more years, for which the Peeks are thankful.
“There were a lot of costs,” Dave said, “even time from work that had to be taken off to take care of medical issues. But that’s where our priority was. It was well worth it.”
The Peeks put their house on hold for their daughter, but over the past few weeks, two manufacturing giants stepped in and helped them get “back to where we wanted to be,” Dave said.
The Peeks were selected in late June as a winner of the GAF Homeliest Home Contest, which had a category for families who had dealt with an illness. The family entered in memory of Sarah, who died March 3, 2010, and in hopes of raising awareness for pulmonary hypertension.
The prize was a full exterior makeover featuring a GAF Lifetime Roofing System and windows, siding, stone veneer, railing and designer accents from The Designed Exterior by Ply Gem.
“We were thrilled to surprise the Peek family as winners of the illness category,” said Alyssa Hall, marketing communications manager at GAF. “There were so many deserving families in need of this giveaway, making it a very difficult decision. The Peek family had a truly touching story and a home in great need of repairs. We are honored to give their home an exterior makeover and bring attention to pulmonary hypertension.”
The home was unveiled Monday morning, Aug. 20, and was featured on the national morning show “Fox & Friends.” The once white, ranch-style house was transformed with stone veneer siding and the addition of a porch to replace the concrete steps that “should have been taped off, they were so dangerous,” Dave joked.
The Peeks first heard about the contest from Michelle’s mother, who is a faithful viewer of “Fox & Friends.”
“We decided to go ahead and enter, not thinking in a million years anything would ever happen,” Michelle said.
Dave and Michelle lived in the house with their son Nathan, 8, and daughter Sadie, 1, for the three weeks it took GAF and Ply Gem to re-do the exterior. Michelle, a stay-at-home mom, described the experience as “unreal.”
“It was unbelievable for us,” said Dave, who works as a software engineer. “It was just amazing being able to come home and still going to work every day, still having our daily lives unchanged, but coming back and seeing these changes, and knowing we would also be able to share our daughter’s story.”
After Sarah died, the Peeks created the Sarah Smiles Annual PHun-Raiser for Pulmonary Hypertension both in her memory and to raise awareness, in order to help fulfill her wish of helping others with the disease.
“She just loved life,” her mom said. “She didn’t let the disease get in her way, and she really wanted to help.”
Her dad would like people to know that while the disease is somewhat uncommon, there are resources out there for those affected by it.
“Our daughter Sarah was diagnosed so late in the game, relatively speaking, and when she was diagnosed the original prognosis was just get your affairs together, she has six months, tops,” he said. “And it wasn’t until we found resources like the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and other specialists that all of the sudden we went from six months of a very bleak seeming lifestyle to five years … And they weren’t just five years of her being sickly ill; they were full of smiles, laughter, and her fulfilling dreams. It added a lot, so much, to her life and our lives.”
The Sarah Smiles Second Annual PHun-Raiser for Pulmonary Hypertension is scheduled for Nov. 3 at the Camillus Elks Lodge on Newport Road, with registration starting at 11 a.m. and “PHun-Activities” running from noon to 3:30 p.m.
Lori Funk, the local PHA support group leader and a friend of the Peeks, set up a table at Monday’s unveiling event. She, herself, was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension about two years ago.
“It’s kind of considered a rare disease, but it doesn’t feel very rare when you get online and you meet people all across the country who are dealing with the same thing,” she said.
There are an estimated 30,000 people who have been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, and more than 100,000 who are suffering from its symptoms, but have not been diagnosed.
Funk said the PHA stresses early diagnosis, which can be elusive. The symptoms of the lung disease often lead to it being mistaken for asthma, she said.
“So often when we come down with a set of symptoms, like the shortness of breath, the fatigue, chest pains, that kind of thing, we go to the doctor’s and they’re trained to look for the most common causes for those symptoms, like asthma,” she said. “So we’re asking people to think about whether they’re getting better on those medications. If they’re not, then it’s worth talking to a doctor and saying, you know, could it be something else?”