Brothers need final $30k to make their home wheelchair accessible

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Brothers need final $30k to make their home wheelchair accessible

When life handed two brothers from Warren Park lemons, they made lemonade — lots of it — for a good cause: raising money to make their home wheelchair accessible.

Adam Abu-Hewaydi, 15, has a rare form of muscular dystrophy and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.  He needs help with everything from getting dressed to taking a shower.

"I always see my brother struggling, and I always think about what can help him," his 10-year-old brother Omar said.

They boys have been living with their grandma, Gafra, in an old split-level home in the Jane Street and Dundas Street West area since their mother died of a brain tumour in 2008 at the age of 27.

"It's hard to take care of Adam, but I love every moment of it," Gafra said.

But trying to get Adam up and down the stairs and through the narrow hallways of her home is next to impossible without help.

"I'm 66 years old and I can't do all the lifting and it's hard for me," she said.

The Abu-Hewaydis have been hoping to install an accessible bathroom and elevator to make life easier — a $122,000 wish list.

One day in the summer, Omar saw Adam struggling to get up the stairs and ran to the kitchen to get some water. When he opened the fridge, he saw a bunch of lemons and had an "a-ha" moment.

"I said, 'We can make lemonade, which is basically the most refreshing drink, and we could sell it,'" Omar recalled.

They set up a stand at the park and made about $12 the first day. Not exactly the revenue stream Omar had in mind.

"I said, 'If we come here for three years, we'll get not even half of our goal reached," he said. "So we need a better way to construct the fundraiser."

The boys approached their local Loblaws and asked if they could set up their stand in the store. Managers unanimously said yes.

The first day there they made over $300. They set up their stand day-in and day-out for months. Loblaws eventually offered to supply the boys with lemonade and cups, and ended up writing them a cheque for $15,000.

Over the course of the summer, their lemonade pursuit squeezed out $100,000.

Now, renovations are underway and Adam couldn't be happier. "It's going to make me free to move around the whole house," he said.

Contractors are putting the finishing touches on a new bathroom and making room for an elevator so Adam can move between floors. Previously, Gafra would have to put him on a blanket and try to pull him up the stairs.

The Abu-Hewaydis are staying at Emily's house, a pediatric hospice in Riverdale, while the work is completed. Gafra said the dust from the construction would be too harsh on Adam's lungs.

The family still needs $30,000 to compete their renovations. They are also trying to raise $45,000 for an accessible van. Right now, Adam relies on Wheel-Trans to get to appointments and around the city.

They have set up a GoFundMe page, where people can make donations.

Adam said, once their fundraising is done, he hopes to sell lemonade to help other children who need to make their homes more accessible. "I like helping people," he said.

Omar, on the other hand, has been bitten by the business bug.  He said he wants to be a hedge fund manager. "If you give me your money, it's in good hands," he quipped.