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News » Thunder players lend hands for home makeover

Thunder players lend hands for home makeover

Thunder players lend hands for home makeover
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - When Ethel Ann Cheatham went seeking help to fix the bathroom in her modest home, she ended up with quite a scene.

There in her living room was Kevin Durant helping replace light bulbs while the Oklahoma City Thunder's two 7-foot centers installed the new blinds on her windows without needing a step-stool.

Outside, Jeff Green carried in a new mattress from a truck while Desmond Mason painted the new frame around Cheatham's front door.

The NBA players and the team's support staff donated their time over the past week to help the nonprofit Rebuilding Together give a makeover to Cheatham's deteriorating home in central Oklahoma City.

"It means a lot to help a family out and make their days better and make them smile," said Durant, the NBA's fifth-leading scorer. "It feels good. We love doing this for the community. We look forward to doing it in the future."

Durant also helped Shaun Livingston and Kyle Weaver put up a new basketball hoop in the rear driveway, breaking it in with a few layups before turning it over to the two of Cheatham's seven grandchildren who still live at the home.

Cheatham, 64, retired from her job as a self-employed beautician to raise her grandkids and said she fell behind in keeping things tidy in the past five years. She called Rebuilding Together last fall when her bathroom floor caved in. Volunteers came in to gut the entire bathroom and make it functional again, but didn't leave it at that.

Program director Tim Reardon kept in mind Cheatham's home, which was filled with years of clutter, and called her late last month to say some more workers would be visiting soon.

The Thunder's basketball operations staff visited first, followed a few days later by the players.

"We're definitely multitasking," said general manager Sam Presti, who picked up a smudge of white on his green T-shirt while painting alongside coach Scott Brooks in the bathroom.

"What we lack in expertise, we'll make up with effort and persistence."

The Thunder helped Cheatham go through piles that had accumulated in the front room and separate items that could be donated to Goodwill. New carpet was put down throughout the house.

In 12-year-old Isaac's bedroom, the walls were painted Thunder blue. The team also left behind a Thunder pennant, trash can and blanket and each player autographed one of the walls.

"That looks good. We made our mark here, and hopefully we do it for some other families as well," Durant said.

And the work isn't done. After Friday night's home finale - which Cheatham will attend for free in a suite - the team plans to donate a leather sofa, two chairs and a glass-topped table from a hospitality room at the Ford Center.

Pink paint will also go up in 12-year-old Kareema's room now that the walls have been repaired. Like Isaac, she got a new bed put together by the Thunder.

Rebuilding Together hopes to get more volunteers to replace siding and repaint the outside of Cheatham's home and also put new insulation in the attic.

"There's plenty of work to do, and we're always looking for volunteers," Reardon said. "We had to turn down some people this year because we didn't have enough volunteers."

The Washington-based group serves people 55 and older who are financially unable to do needed repairs on their homes, said Valerie Aubert, the Oklahoma City executive director. Projects can range from an emergency heating or plumbing fix to the installation of a wheelchair ramp to a whole house makeover like the one at Cheatham's home.

On May 2, the group will have about 2,500 volunteers participate in a work day on a series of homes.

"Our main focus is safe, warm and dry and just to keep them in their home," Aubert said.

Reardon said Rebuilding Together has been busier lately, but he attributes it more to publicity the group has received than to the economic decline.

"I seems like with the people that we deal with, the economy - I know it affects them, but they don't make any money to start with," Reardon said.

And while Presti said none of the Thunder staff "will be confused with Bob Vila or anybody like that," they were able to make a difference for one family.

"It's good because what we do every day pales in comparison to what we're doing here today," Presti said. "At the end of the day, we're working in sports. Today's a day where you're helping somebody in need.

"That's incredibly rewarding and puts things in perspective for our staff and our players."

Cheatham said she will do her best to prevent the clutter from building up again, and she believes the makeover will help her most when she's getting up to take the kids to school in the morning.

"This is truly a Miracle on 34th Street. God knew what he was doing when he gave me this house on 34th Street," Cheatham said. "He knew one day he was going to bring a lot of joy to someone."


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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 9, 2009


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