Each spring, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS) hosts Rampathon, a one-day sprint where volunteers build wheelchair ramps for those in need at no cost to the recipients. Since the annual event began in 1993, MBAKS and its partners have built over 500 ramps for families across King and Snohomish Counties.
Using donated materials from Dunn Lumber, Rampathon participants will come together this year on Saturday, May 16, to construct the ramps. In honor of the event, we’re featuring a contracting partner each month on Dunn Solutions.
For our first installment, we’re chatting with Joe Reed of Home Run Solutions. Joe co-founded Home Run Solutions in 2006; current co-director Jacob Thompson came on as a carpenter. In 2012, Jacob became a partner, and today the team is on its seventh year of participation. We sat down with Joe to discuss his favorite memories from Rampathon, how the community service event helps his team bond, and his hopes for Rampathon in the future.
Q: What’s your favorite Rampathon memory?
A: In 2017, we built a ramp for an 8-year-old girl. She suffered from seizures she developed at about 2 months old. She was also diagnosed with epilepsy and mitochondrial disease. It was really debilitating and degenerative. She was bound to a wheelchair, and she couldn't speak, walk, or crawl. She was 100 percent dependent on her parents and caregivers. By the time she was 8 years old in 2017, it was almost impossible for her parents to lift and carry her into her house.
We were able to complete a two-section ramp in that one day. Everything came together perfectly. That was probably our most challenging ramp because we were also working on resurfacing the back deck—the recipient loved being outdoors. When it was all completed and we saw the tears in this young, vibrant family’s eyes, it was hard not to get choked up ourselves. We've stayed in contact with the family throughout the years.
Q: Why do you volunteer with Rampathon?
A: First and foremost, the recipients are the heart of it. We just have this one little opportunity to impact their lives. I can't imagine what they go through. Nobody should have to deal with being afraid of getting safely into their own home. Even if it’s only two or three stairs getting up and in, that's a struggle multiple times a day, and that doesn’t even take into account wet conditions. We’re able to alleviate just that small aspect, and you can tell in the recipients’ faces how gracious and how grateful they are.
Team aspect is also a big one. In order to really have a team, everybody's involved. It's everybody pulling in the same direction. It’s also being a part of the bigger community we support. Giving back to the community is really important. It's sharing our talents. The community is the reason we're able to do the job we love.
When I started the company in 2006, it was because I love to do the work. Without the clients and the homeowners, there would be no Home Run Solutions. The thing that we enjoy about remodeling and Rampathon is the fact that you're in a situation that isn't perfect. You're coming into a home that has its existing challenges. You have to really listen to what the homeowner's needs are. You have to come up with a solution that not only solves the problem but makes them happy. There are many ways to go about it in many cases. Finding the right solution to the problem is a two-way street. It's a collaboration.
Rampathon is a perfect partnership in our eyes. Dunn Lumber has always been a great support as far as getting us the materials we need. And there’s an aspect of partnership with the individual families that we really enjoy, as well.
Q: What are you most excited about this year?
A: We've hired a couple of new employees within the last year, and Rampathon is always a real impact date for new employees. You really haven't seen it all until you've participated in something that's as rewarding as Rampathon. It's a great bonding day. It’s one of the highlights of the year.
Plus, Rampathon is a way that we can spend time with not only our employees but our employees’ extended families. We open it up to everybody. It's really become a company tradition. It's always a fun-filled day with lots of good food, laughs, and camaraderie. Afterward, we host a barbecue for everyone who participated. It's a nice way to cap off something we look forward to every year.
Q: What has your team learned through participating in Rampathon?
A: We've learned a lot. We've learned there’s a community of great companies out there, and we're proud to be a part of such a rich tradition. It's amazing we get to be involved with this association that does so much to give back. It's rewarding to be a part of a bigger community. The trades get a bad rap—there’s this connotation that contractors are crooks, but this is one example we can point to and say: No, there's a lot of good people out there doing a lot of good work.
Q: What are your hopes for Rampathon in the future?
A: I think it will continue to grow. It's a great opportunity for new companies in the trades to get involved, give back, and be part of something bigger. There are needs inside the home, as well. A lot of families have safety concerns that could be addressed with small projects like adding grab bars to their homes. I could see Rampathon being the start of something that could be even more holistic and continuing.
To learn more about volunteering with or donating to Rampathon, visit mbaks.com/giving-back/rampathon.