Upgrading a home to provide wheelchair accessibility is a vital need for many families. Each May since 1993, dozens of families across King and Snohomish counties receive a ramp at no cost thanks to Rampathon, an appropriately named one-day sprint. During Rampathon, a group of volunteers from the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and the community set out on a mission: to improve the lives of their neighbors by adding wheelchair-access ramps to the entrances of their homes.

With volunteer support and donated materials, Rampathon has constructed more than 500 ramps and contributed more than $2 million of in-kind contributions to the community. This year marks 26 years of the annual tradition, and if the past 25 years have been any indication, it’ll be another big year. As Rampathon 2019 approaches (to be held on Saturday, May 18), we’re interviewing a handful of our friends in the community who’ve participated in Rampathon over the years.

At Dunn Lumber, we value our relationships with our customers. We wanted to take some time to celebrate how our customers have been involved in our community. 

Today we're highlighting Irons Brothers Construction and chatting about all things Rampathon with two members of their management team: Joseph Irons, president and general manager, and Melissa Irons, showroom and operations manager. Joseph built his first ramp with Rampathon in 2005. One year later, his entire company got involved by building a ramp for a neighbor in Shoreline. Irons Brothers Construction has continued every year since—this year will be Joseph’s fifteenth year and the company’s fourteenth.

wheelchair ramp volunteers
Q: How did you first hear about Rampathon?

A: As members of the Master Builders Association’s Remodelers Council, we became aware and involved in this amazing philanthropic project. I [Joseph] am a past chair of the Rampathon committee, a past chair of the Remodelers Council, and past president of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS).

Q: How much planning is involved prior to the actual event?

A: Every March or April, we start working with the MBAKS Rampathon program to evaluate homes for our ramp build. After the site is decided upon, we begin working with the homeowner and our team for the next one to two months to plan, design, coordinate, complete material takeoff, and enlist staff and volunteers. We basically plan for 45 days in advance to create a smooth day for the build. The Friday prior to Rampathon, our company pays our production staff to complete all sitework, post layout, and digging for the ramp. This is about a four to six hour day for three to four team members. This way, we can make the build go smoothly and put everyone to work efficiently on Saturday when our “unskilled” volunteers arrive. 

Q: What does your team do the day of Rampathon? 

A: We arrive early—prior to the event at about 7 a.m.—at a restaurant central to the ramp site. Our company buys everyone a hearty breakfast to start their day. Then, we all head out as a group to the ramp site and start unloading the materials at 8 a.m. and start working to get the job done. Our skilled staff take the lead on the ramp construction itself, while our volunteers load debris, dig post-holes, and mix concrete for the ramp posts. We stay until the ramp build is complete—at times, this has been past dusk. 

Irons brothers construction
Q: What has been your favorite Rampathon project and why? 

A: Our 2018 Rampathon crew and recipient made for a very memorable project this year. It was local to our community in Shoreline, and we had an amazing, thankful, and fun recipient named Lynn. 

Lynn experiences a genetic condition that affects all the bones in her body and causes her joints to disintegrate over time. She uses a scooter for mobility, but her doorway is too narrow to enter and exit her home safely. Her ramp allows her to access her backyard from her bedroom door, which not only creates safe access to her backyard, but allows her to enjoy her outdoor space, water her garden, and watch her two playful Pomeranians.

Q: How does Rampathon affect your team?

A: We are blessed to be able to give back our time and talents to help others. We are honored and humbled to be able to help others with this annual philanthropic event.

irons brothers construction rampathon
Q: Would you recommend other businesses try Rampathon? Why?

A: The key with any philanthropic project is a desire to help others. For Irons Brothers Construction, community involvement and service is one of our company values, so it’s easy for us to get involved because from leadership down, we all believe in helping others—it’s part of our company culture. Rampathon is a great project for experienced builders and remodelers who have talented staff and partners willing to spend a weekend helping others.

Thanks, Joseph and Melissa! Read what Rob Carlisle of Carlisle Classic Homes had to say about volunteering for Rampathon, and stay tuned for more from Rampathon participants as we gear up for this year's event in May. 

If you're interested in volunteering for Rampathon, follow the link to sign up.