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Habitat hopes to finish house for Travis Hearn in one day

May 21, 2007
From QC Times
By Tory Brecht
 
So many people want to help build a new home for Travis Hearn - the Rock Island High School football player left paralyzed last fall after an on-field collision - that Habitat for Humanity organizers vetoed a weekend construction date.
"We were afraid we'd have more volunteers than we could handle on a Saturday," said Kristi Crafton, Habitat Quad-Cities' executive director. "We were really afraid we'd get 4,000 or 5,000 people down there, some just to watch, and we didn't know if we could handle that kind of crowd."

"There" is the site of Hearn's new four-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot, handicapped-accessible house at 915 8th St., Rock Island, On Thursday, Habitat will attempt a first - a one-day build of an entire home.

"Most speed builds or blitz builds are done in a week," Crafton said. "As far as we know, this is a first for Habitat. I looked at the international Web site, and we couldn't find another affiliate that's done it."

Not that many places have as motivated a volunteer base as the Quad-Cities and Hearn supporters, either.

Crafton said there are 760 two-hour volunteer spots for the 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. projects, and all are accounted for. Those include construction, parking, food service, traffic control and other needs.

Already, some prep work has been done. About 40 of Hearn's football teammates took some time off Monday night to put up fencing around the construction site, Coach Vic Boblett said. The players also will be laying sod about 6 p.m. Thursday.

"Our kids have just done a ton," Boblett said. "There have been so many fundraisers, so many efforts, and the guys have really responded. I'm so proud of them."

Boblett said he's moved that so long after the tragedy, so many are still engaged in helping the fallen player.

"The only word I've been able to use is overwhelming," he said. "It makes you proud to be a member of the Quad-City community."

Crafton said a one-day build attempt was planned even before Hearn became eligible for a Habitat home. The idea was to get the community's attention and some publicity in order to attract new volunteers and donors. The speed build was in the planning stages when Hearn's family applied for the program. Once his eligibility was approved, it was a no-brainer to blitz build his new home.

"We're really trying to recruit people," said Crafton, noting the organization is still about $50,000 short of funding for another house in Habitat Park which is scheduled to break ground this fall. "We're hoping people can see what we can do."

Folks from the Crawford Co., a Rock Island-based heating and air conditioning firm, are on board to help. They are outfitting the Hearn house with heating and air conditioning free of charge, and are excited to try their shot at a one-day installation, director of laser operations Larry Flaherty said.

"Crawford has been in Rock Island for more than 50 years, and we felt it was our job to step up and support this cause," he said. "Habitat for Humanity is probably the best organization, dollar-for-dollar, you can invest in in your community."

Flaherty and Crafton said although the project is being dubbed a one-day build, the home actually will be closer to 80 percent completed Thursday. Some preparation work has been done already and some finishing touches - such as interior painting - will be done after Thursday.

An official dedication ceremony is scheduled for June 16, Crafton said.



If you go

Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity's one-day build project for Travis Hearn will begin organizing and setting up about 5 a.m. Thursday.

Actual construction is scheduled to begin about 7 a.m. and is scheduled to be completed by 9 p.m.

The Martin Luther King Center,

630 Martin Luther King Drive, Rock Island, will be the volunteer check-in center. Volunteers will receive a safety orientation, sign waivers and will be issued wristbands that will allow them access to the build site and meals. Volunteers will also be provided with safety equipment.

The City of Rock Island has allowed closure of 8th Street between 7th and 11th avenues from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on the day of the build. In addition, two alleys located in the Habitat Park area will also be closed.
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