Meet Isaac Rodriguez.
A twin, and the second eldest of five children, 12-year-old Isaac has spent most of his life overcoming multiple challenges. Isaac’s father, Jesse, is a 21-year active duty Marine – which means Isaac’s family relocates every three years. Additionally, Isaac has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and sensory processing disorder which makes transitions a little more difficult. Despite the frequent, yet expected, changes, Isaac has thrived. However, it was a discovery and diagnosis last August that turned the Rodriguez family upside down – Isaac was diagnosed with metastatic Medulloblastoma, a form of pediatric brain cancer.
When Walker Thomas, store manager, and Jerry Henry, assistant store manager, of Lowe’s in New Bern, North Carolina, learned about Isaac’s story, they knew they had to help.
“Earlier this summer, we received a call asking for product donations to help renovate a space in the Rodriguez home that would be used as Isaac’s therapy room,” Walker said. “But we knew we could do more than donate product, and once associates understood the project’s importance, they became even more committed and involved.”
Over the past 14 months, in addition to undergoing 30 rounds of high dose radiation and five months of high dose chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, Isaac has endured 11 surgeries, including a hernia repair, multiple skin grafts, a port-a-cath placement, a brain shunt, and a permanent feeding tube in his stomach. The child who once enjoyed running and playing in nature with insects, frogs and turtles will now need intense occupational and physical therapy as he is unable to walk for more than 10 minutes without assistance. Isaac is not cancer-free but being able to come home to a completed house is healing for his mind and body.
To prepare for Isaac’s return home, associates from the New Bern Lowe’s partnered with a wide-ranging team all the way up the Lowe’s chain – district managers, human resources, regional directors – to receive approvals and funding to install flooring, plumbing, sheetrock, insulation, wiring, and paint for the therapy room and bathroom.
“I just had a newborn and couldn’t imagine going through life with that much strength. I would hope that someone would give me a helping hand if needed,” Jerry said. “Also, as much as Jesse has done for his country, it was the least we can do.”
Lowe’s Heroes, associate volunteers, donated about 100 hours to complete the project. But, their time, talent and expertise were invaluable.
“Lowe’s is not just retail; we’re here for our community and it’s been rewarding to help the Rodriguez family get where they need to be,” said Carl Coffey, Lowe’s regional director of services. “It’s just an indescribable feeling to be a part of it.”
Isaac, who recently returned home after a year of living separately from his parents and siblings, loves his new room.
“By leaps and bounds, my family and I are completely in awe,” Jesse said. “Visiting our local Lowe’s store has always been a positive experience but now we truly feel part of the Lowe’s family.”
Watch the video of Isaac’s homecoming below: