Stacey Luteran was born a month premature. A seizure disorder left her with severe physical and developmental disabilities.
Stacey’s doctors suggested to Stacey’s parents, John and Kathy Luteran, even before she came home from the hospital that they may want to place her outside of the home.
“It became our life long mission to keep her here,” Kathy said.
22 years later, Stacey lives at home with her mom and dad. She is quadriplegic and non-verbal, but it doesn’t take much time around her to see her personality shine through her emotive expressions and vocalizations.
Kathy said that while her husband is always quick to dote on their daughter, Stacey picked up more of her mother’s character.
Kathy is Stacey’s primary caregiver, which has never been an easy task. Stacey has been growing slowly but steadily. She now weighs 110 pounds.
“I remember how long it took to get to ten pounds,” John said.
Over Stacey’s 22 years, the Luterans moved into a house across the street from a riverside park. They adopted a dog. Kathy’s mother moved in with them for a number of years. Stacey matriculated from high school. Her graduation picture hangs above the Luterans’ mantle and John smiles broadly when he shows it off.
The Luterans gave their daughter a happy, loving childhood in their own home.
But as Stacey grew, it became harder to take care of her. The Luterans used to bathe Stacey in a bathroom in their basement, using an electronic chair lift to bring her up and down the stairs.
Eventually, she outgrew her wheelchair, and her wheel chair lift. Just to take her to the bathroom the Luterans had to physically lift her up and set her down five times. Due to the constant stress on her back, Kathy developed sciatica.
Kathy’s biggest worry was that she wouldn’t be able to care for her daughter when her husband was at work.
But ACTION-Housing was able to help. Taking advantage of the Allegheny County Accessibility Program, ACTION-Housing made a number of modifications to the Luternans’ house in 2011. We put in a bathroom next to Stacey’s room on the first floor, and, in addition to other modifications, a lift that allows the Luterans to hoist Stacey from her wheelchair to her bed and to the bathroomwith a flick of a switch.
“I like to say it gave us the easy button” Kathy said. “We don’t have back-aches anymore.”
When the work was finished, ACTION-Housing had invested $38,000.00 in modifications to the Luterans’ home.
Kathy was relieved to be able to take care of Stacey without fear of finding herself on an Island.
“All together,” the Luterans wrote in a letter, “these modifications have made our ongoing care of Stacey possible for years to come.”
Stacey’s favorite color is blue, and her favorite cartoon is Toy Story. She has Toy Story pillows, Toy Story sheets, Toy Story dolls, and Toy Story blankets — all in calming blue.
She even has blue Toy Story curtains, with the tag line from the most recent installment in the series that reads “Nobody gets left behind.”