When Benjamin Burns was born in 1997, he was an apparently healthy baby boy. Six months later, Benjamin’s sister was playing with her baby brother and, when he started to fall, she reached out to help him. But when she grabbed his arm, she unknowingly fractured it. In the weeks that followed, routine tasks performed by Benjamin’s parents resulted in more visits to the hospital and led to the discovery that his arm had been re-injured and he had a fractured skull.
Eventually, Child Protective Services was called and Benjamin was separated for three months from his parents, who were accused of child abuse. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and loving parents Gerald and Ellen Burns spent every resource they had trying to get their son back and prove their innocence. When it was finally diagnosed that Benjamin suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily, the Burns were cleared of the abuse charges and allowed to bring their son home.
With guidance from OI experts, the design team provided Benjamin with a home that would be safe for him. Features like padded walls, non-slip resilient flooring and grab rails throughout the house were installed to improve Benjamin’s environment.
While the design team, contractors and hundreds of workers and volunteers were building the Burns new home in just seven days, the family—parents Gerald and Ellen, their children Pamela, 17, Jeffrey, 16 and Benjamin, 6—along with Gerald’s sister, Diana, went on a vacation to San Diego.