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 (MBAKS) 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 hearing from Michael Tenhulzen, founder and director of Tenhulzen Residential. Michael started Tenhulzen Residential in 2012 after growing up in residential remodeling, holding numerous positions in his father’s company, and leading committees at the Master Builder’s Association (MBA). He has a Certified Graduate Remodeler designation and a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation from the National Association of Home Builders. Tenhulzen Residential’s innovative design/build process has helped them produce striking remodel solutions while focusing on each and every customer.
Q: How did you first hear about Rampathon?
A: Rampathon was into its second year when we learned about it through our involvement in the MBA Education Foundation and through our leadership in the Remodelers Council. Our team’s first ramp was completed for Rampathon in 1995, and we’ve produced one or two ramps for the event nearly every year since then.
Q: How much planning is involved prior to the actual event?
A: Much of the planning and promotion is done by the MBAKS staff. MBAKS staff volunteers even provide Rampathon crews with morning and mid-day meals. The team only needs to perform the site visit and create a material take-off to form an efficient standardized plan.
Q: What does your team do the day of Rampathon?
A: Whether we’re building one or two ramps, we divide up our office and field team members to provide volunteers with a range of skills and experience for the build day. Out of our crew of 18, we generally get 10-12 volunteers to work the Rampathon event each year. Because Rampathon is a race against the clock, it can be difficult to cross-train our team—but somehow the office crew always gets dirty and does a great job using shovels, saws, and caulking guns. Once the ramp is complete, our team meets at a local pub for burgers and beers provided by our company to recap the event.
Q: What has been your favorite Rampathon project and why?
A: My favorite ramp was built in 2008 on an unseasonably hot weekend in Duvall. We took on the challenge of building a 38-foot ramp with three switchbacks in a mobile home park. Seventeen footings were dug and poured and materials were delivered on Friday. The build started at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and our crew of eight got roughly three-quarters of the way done by 5 p.m. when we were presented with cold beer by a group of appreciative neighbors. The rest of the ramp had to be finished up the next morning by six of us.
Q: How does Rampathon affect your team?
A: Every year is emotional, leaving you feeling a sense of accomplishment and having fulfilled a need for someone who hasn’t had access to and from their home. But the year we built that 38-foot ramp in Duvall felt more like having gone to war as a team. For months after, our crew had a bond that has never since been replicated.
Q: Would you recommend other businesses volunteer for Rampathon?
A: Rampathon is one of the wonderful things a builder member of the MBA can volunteer their time and talent to, making a positive lasting impression on the community. I recommend becoming a ramp captain not only for what the results bring to a family in need, but for the team-building experience as well.
Thanks, Michael! Stay tuned for more from Rampathon participants as we gear up for this year's event in May, and take a look at our recent interviews with other Rampathon participants Potter Construction, Carlisle Classic Homes, and Irons Brothers Construction.
If you're interested in volunteering for Rampathon, follow the link to sign up.