“We just always do things for others,” says Chris Schell, with a shrug. “It’s our company culture.” The younger-by-minutes twin of business brother Preston, Chris Schell is president/CEO of Schell Brothers home builders. “Because most businesses aim to make money,” he adds, “not a lot of people understand that our goal is simply to make people happy.”
The two were commenting on Brain Injury Association of Delaware praise and the publicity their firm has been receiving for having taken charge of helping a Dover family survive a life-altering tragedy. When popular 16-year-old athlete and musician Ben Knapp experienced severe brain injury after his heart suddenly stopped, his parents and sisters instantly faced an overwhelming circumstance. Ben’s resulting oxygen loss produced visual impairment and mobility limitations that require use of a wheelchair. His home and family were not equipped to meet all the new needs and expenses.
Preston Schell says a friend called to tell him about the Knapps, and after a quick huddle with Chris, the decision was made to provide the family with an extreme house makeover that would allow Ben wheelchair and shower access, a functional nurse’s station, a track system for lifting Ben to and from bed and his chair, and soundproof walls to augment his hearing.
Chris Schell says, “Ben’s parents are both in jobs that give more to others than themselves, and giving back to them seemed the right thing to do.” Ben's father, Chip, coaches Wesley College football and his mother, Cindy, works in the child welfare field.
Dion Lamb, in charge of the home renovation project, says, “Ben's story would grip anyone who has kids." The project, he says, "is a detailed and substantial undertaking and it’s made more challenging because the existing structure doesn’t readily lend itself to the required changes, and because the family needs to be living in the home while we are renovating." Lamb’s 10-to-12-member makeover team aims to complete the in-progress project quickly and efficiently, with as little disruption to the Knapps' daily life as possible.
BIAD will honor Schell Brothers at a Nov. 2 Embellish Your Melon fundraiser, to be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom, 2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington. Advance registration at www.BIADE.org is $49 per person or $59 at the door, and includes a gourmet selection of hors d'oeuvres, live music, dancing, contest entry, and silent auction admission.
Participants are requested to wear a favorite hat or creative head covering to help promote head injury awareness. Dress is formal to business casual, depending on individual preferences.
Businesses and individuals who want to participate as event sponsors are encouraged to contact BIAD, by leaving a return-call phone message at 1-800-411-0505 as soon as possible, to reserve special package rates and arrangements.