How a friendship led to overwhelming support for a home addition to help a boy with special needs

Evan Groves' best friend helped raise money for his new bedroom and bathroom

COVINGTON, Va. – Construction is underway on a home addition that will make life easier for a local boy with special needs, after the community raised nearly double the amount needed to upgrade his bathroom and bedroom.

To understand the outpouring of community support, you have to understand a very special friendship.

Evan Groves and Parker Willis are best friends.

As 10 News told you back in 2017, Parker helps care for Evan at school.

[Third-grade boy helps take care of friend with genetic skin disorder]

“Parker being so close to Evan with Evan’s special needs,” said Evan’s mom, Christina McLaughlin. “It’s nice to see a child accept somebody like Evan and take care of him like he does.”

Evan has a rare disease that makes his skin fragile and susceptible to tearing apart.

“Just sitting in a chair will tear his skin off,” said McLaughlin.

Evan Groves lives with epidermolysis bullosa
Evan Groves lives with epidermolysis bullosa

When Parker’s dad, David, asked McLaughlin if there was anything their family could help with, they learned Christina has to routinely bandage up her son after bath time in a space that isn’t ideal.

“Right now, this is where we do Evan’s bandages on the kitchen table,” said McLaughlin.

“We decided to maybe put a walk-in shower in and that’s basically where it started and then it just blossomed from there,” said David.

David asked the community for $48,000 to cover a new bathroom addition that would include a medical table next to the shower for bandaging. To everyone’s surprise, the community gave $86,000.

“It just blew me away, it did. Not only people from here, but all the surrounding area,” said David.

“I’ll never thank everybody enough for everything they’ve done, because it’s been like a blessing. I can’t afford to do it and I’ve always wanted this for him to be easier for him, because he struggles,” said McLaughlin.

As crews were working hard to finish up Evan’s new bathroom and bedroom, Evan and Parker checked out the space for the first time.

“I was shocked,” said Evan.

It’s a big space taking shape all because one friend wanted to help another.

“I will never thank them enough. They have been a blessing to us. The whole family,” said McLaughlin.

“All you have to do is be a friend and there’s no telling where it can go from there,” said David. “I tell you what, my son has been good for Evan, but Evan has been even better for my son. He has. He’s been great.”

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