EL CAJON, Calif. - A group of volunteers in El Cajon is coming together to help an El Capitan High School senior gain more independence.
“Just being able to go to the bathroom and not having to rely on everyone as much,” said 18-year-old Tyler Leone, who is bound to an electric wheelchair and has relied on his mother, a single mother of three, for his care his entire life.
The group the East County Posse is building a new room and bathroom to help Leone.
“What we did was bump this wall out three feet and made a handicap accessible ramp,” said Shawn Bush of the East County Posse as he gave a tour of the framing of the new rooms.
The East County Posse is comprised of volunteer plumbers, framers and roofers. Meanwhile, businesses and churches donate supplies.
For the past two weeks they have been building.
“It's just great because my mom couldn't get me in the other bathroom anymore,” added Leone.
When 10News looked at the bathroom inside the main home, the door opening was less than 2 feet wide. Every time Tyler needed to use the bathroom or take a shower, his mother had to carry him in.
“I was able to do all this stuff for him, you know, it was no problem for me,” said Tyler’s mother Gina Barnett as her voice began to break up, overcome with emotion. “But it just seems like the last year, it just…he's so heavy now, so…I can't.”
Leone has spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a disease that affects motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem. It causes muscles to not work properly. Barnett says her son's muscle strength is that of a 6-month-old.
But it hasn't affected his drive or his desire to become a basketball coach. He showed us pictures of him already in coaching positions for El Capitan High School's football and basketball teams.
“We just want to be there for people. And we want to be able to help their life be the best it can be,” said Bush.
Leone and his family says they couldn't be more grateful for what the East County Posse is doing.
“I don't know what we would have done without them,” he said.
The East County Posse has been helping residents for nearly a decade.
For more information on how you can get involved, log on to eastcountyposse.org.