Pekin family’s blessing list is long after home ‘Makeover’

PEKIN — The Grys family of St. Joseph’s Parish in Pekin have always known they were blessed, but this Thanksgiving they have more reasons than ever to give thanks for the gifts God has showered on them.

They are brimming with gratitude because of an outpouring of love last month, when the popular ABC television program “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” built them a new, spacious house in the space of just one week, from Oct. 22 to 28.

The program airs Sundays at 7 p.m., and the episode featuring the Gryses is tentatively scheduled for January.

The 4,000-square-foot house, valued at more than $400,000, was specially designed to accommodate the needs of Jacob (“Jake”) Grys, the 8-year-old adopted son of Steve and Jean Grys.

Jake was born with “osteogenesis imperfecta” or brittle bone disorder, which contributed to his developing dwarfism. Both conditions impair his mobility, but in his new home he can be much more independent.

The new house was not only built to fit Jake’s needs, but is also large enough for all seven members of the Grys family who live there.

The Grys family is much more accustomed to being on the giving than the receiving end of kindness and generosity. In the past 25 years, Steve and Jean have been foster parents to more than 250 children. Jake, Abagail and Rebekah had first been their foster children.

“My whole family is a testament to ‘God’s will and not man’s will,'” said Steve. “He’s not through with us. If there’s something else he has for us, that’s up to him and we’ll do it.”

Jake has a message for the uncountable number of people who volunteered and donated to help them:

“Thank you for the house. We love it so much, and you did a great job building it.”

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