The charity Hearts & Hammers helped renovate the home of a teen paralyzed in a sports accident.

It will be one year on August 24th since Alex’s life changed forever. She was doing a gymnastics routine when she fell, breaking her neck. She went through four hours of surgery, and ended up with a metal plate permanently implanted in her neck.

“When we did the MRI they said there was no communication from where the break was down, or down up, so it was basically I would never be able to walk again.”

After months of physical therapy, Alex’s mom worried about taking care of her in a home with too many little rooms and stairs. She found another home, but it needed a lot of work.

“All of the flooring inside for the most part was carpet, and the bathroom of course, bathrooms in most houses are hardly accessible,” said Amy Wist, Alex’s mom. “And egress, getting in, we thought about a ramp but the ramp would have had to have gone all the way to the street to make it to code.”

So they decided on a lift, but all of these things cost a lot of money. That’s where Hearts & Hammers comes in.

“It’s all nominations, our process is you get nominated by someone else, whether it be a family member or an occupational therapist or health professional,” said John Casuga, Chair of Hearts & Hammers.

The Wist family was nominated and ended up being one of about four projects for this year. The carpets were replaced with hard flooring, the bathroom was made fully accessible, and a lift was put in. With sponsors and volunteers, the $50,000 job was done for just $20,000.

“If it wouldn’t have been for Hearts and Hammers we probably would have just done something minimal to make it work as good as we could to make it easier for me to help her, but with Hearts and Hammers, they helped us renovate so she could do a lot of it herself,” said Amy.

“Now that I am home, I feel a lot more independent, like if my mom is still at work, I can get into bed or I can get food, but before when we weren’t here, I needed help doing everything,” said Alex.

You can help Hearts & Hammers by donating time, money or building supplies. Find out more at