Sparrow Club saves the day for Garries family

Assorted chocolates for $175? A blueberry torte costing $100?

Assorted chocolates for $175? A blueberry torte costing $100?

This isn’t inflation. Those are the prices guests paid for sweets during an April 21 dessert auction at Northshore Baptist Church.

The event netted over $8,500 toward remodeling the home of Matthew Garries, an 11-year-old Kenmore resident who suffers from mitochondrial neuro-degenerative disorder.

The condition causes brain damage and frequent seizures, and has left Matthew immobilized in a wheelchair with part of his brain removed.

The Garries have struggled through the years to accommodate his needs with a traditional home and transportation means.

Life got easier last year when students from Moorlands Elementary teamed up with First National Home Mortgage and S.D. Deacon Construction to buy the family a van equipped with a wheelchair lift.

It was the school’s first project with the Sparrow Club, an Oregon-based organization that encourages children to work for money that local businesses have donated to help kids in need.

“Whenever you introduce kids to other kids that need help, it unleashes their compassion,” said Sparrow Club Founder Jeff Leeland. “It really creates providence in their hearts.”

Moorlands students, including Matthew’s 9-year-old sister, Anna, worked 750 hours to earn the $2,560 that Deacon and First National contributed toward the Garries’ van. They were only required to do 256.

The family got a more practical set of wheels, but it was still struggling at home, where caring for Matthew means moving his 4-foot-6, 65-pound frame from room to room and up steep stairs manually.

“It’s getting to that critical point where it’s almost too difficult,” said Matthew’s mother, Pam Garries.

Remodeling was going to cost more money than the family could readily afford.

The Garries considered moving, but suitable homes were few and far between.

They eventually cashed in some of their retirement funds in an attempt to make the renovation possible.

It wasn’t necessary. The Sparrow Club swooped in for another rescue.

This time, the group teamed with Deacon, the Olympic Associates architectural firm, and Rebuilding Together — a nonprofit organization that works to provide affordable housing for people in need — to award the Garries’ a 765-square-foot addition worth $250,000.

“The remodel’s practically a dream come true for my family,” said Matthew’s 16-year-old brother, Brian Garries.

“It’ll relieve a lot of stress physically and mentally.”

The project provides a new medical room, storage areas for Matthew’s supplements and supplies, a larger bath room and lifts that can move him up the stairs, as well as into his bath tub.

“I can’t even get my head around how much easier life is going to be,” Pam said. “It changes everything that has to do with his care.

“The one person who’s not going to be happy about this remodel is my chiropractor.”

Matthew spent his earliest years jumping, running and playing like most other kids, but the severity and frequency of his seizures increased until he was confined to a wheelchair around the age of 4.

The average life expectancy for children suffering from mitochondrial neuro-degenerative disorder is around 10 years.

Michael underwent surgery several years ago to remove part of his brain and reduce his risk of having seizures.

“That probably extended his life quite a bit,” Pam said.

“He still has seizures, but they’re not as severe.”

The Garries have been taking their difficulties in stride and trying to make Matthew’s life as comfortable as possible during the time he has left.

“Life is life,” said Matthew’s father, Dan.

“You can either lean into it or get bitter and angry. We’re just lucky to have so many people loving on us.”