GALLERY: Gantt vacation rental designed to accommodate physical disabilities

Published 9:15 am Monday, May 22, 2023

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Leslie Gafford renovated a home in Gantt into a vacation rental unit modified to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities and named it “John-Boy’s Place” after her husband passed away.

The home features a Bruno custom hydraulic wheelchair lift installed on the outside with part of a boat used as the top cover. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Windchime Wishes Limited describes the home’s history and function as a memory of John Porter Gafford who bravely fought ALS for over two years. John-Boy’s Place is a fully accessible and equipped home where all details are geared toward getting families together, making new memories, and easing caregiver concerns with a view.

“We are dedicated to providing truly accessible accommodations to patients who live with disabilities such as, but not limited to, ALS, PLS, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, TBI, or spinal cord injury,” Gafford said. “The lack of uniform accessibility across the United States in vacation properties represents a major hurdle to families caring for patients living with these and similar conditions. Windchime Wishes Limited and its related entities will create a scenario without those hurdles or barriers to access by providing a home in a peaceful, serene, scenic location where patients and families may gather for the sole purpose of making positive memories as a family or group.”

The nonprofit organization joined the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce with a ribbon cutting Tuesday, May 16.

“Patients will benefit from the most up-to-date accessible equipment and autonomous technology. If a patient chooses to participate in almost all activities enjoyed by family and friends, he or she will be able to do so without fear of injury or denial of access.”

John-boy’s Place contains three large bedrooms and two bathrooms for its guests.

“Modifications have been made to the master bedroom and bathroom to include widening of door frames to accommodate larger electric wheelchairs. A wet room is located in the master bathroom that allows a patient to use his or her wheelchair into a large roll-in shower. The home is raised up on pilings, therefore requiring either a ramp or a lift. A Bruno custom hydraulic wheelchair lift was recently completed. The rest of the home has 36-inch wide entry doors, threshold ramps, and new 5-foot wide concrete sidewalks to the water’s edge,” she said.

Team Gleason has assisted Gafford in outfitting the home with smart technology, which enhances the autonomy of the patient. They will be utilizing the home for patients of Gleason Adventures.

“The purpose of this endeavor is to provide a safe location for families to create some positive memories and escape the guilt that can accompany caregiving and extreme illness or injury. John-boy’s Place aims to create an entire atmosphere of inclusivity, joy, and togetherness that the patient can immerse him or herself in. No one needs to be left out; the entire home will be dedicated to erasing the standard barriers to access and offering simple, often abandoned activities.”

There is an expansive covered, smooth concrete area with power, light, and wide-open spaces underneath the home. Activities include a Ping-Pong table, corn hole boards, magnetic dartboard, kids table, and chairs for games/chalk drawing, air hockey, foosball, charcoal grill, Cantina Bar area, and seating all protected from sunlight and rain.

“The master has an electric hospital bed as well as a king-size bed with a dual adjustable base. There is a caregiver room with a twin bed, small chair, table and lamp, so that if a caregiver is included in the mix, he or she can have a place to sleep and store belongings. A second bedroom has two queen beds, and a third bedroom has two twin-over-full-bunk beds and a memory foam cot. The home sleeps a total of 12 to 14 guests with sleeping spaces on a queen sleeper sofa and the hospital bed bringing the total to 17 people,” Leslie said.

Leslie lost her husband John to ALS on May 5, 2021.

“I know the feelings, the frustrations, the needs, and the stress of being a caregiver. The concepts contained in John-boy’s Place are born out of my own necessity and experience in caring for John and surviving the whole process myself. As I ventured into creating Windchime Wishes Limited, I spoke with many patients and caregivers who reported their failed vacation and travel adventures, all due to a lack of accessibility or lack of confirmed accessibility, and it made my heart sink.”

Windchime Wishes Limited is located at 25915 Bush Isle Road in the Gantt community.

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