Septic system an early Christmas present for Fischers

Claudia Loucks
Volunteers braved freezing temperatures to complete necessary digging for a new septic system at the home of Dustin and Angie Fischer, in rural Geneseo. The volunteers include, from left: Nathan Williams, Zach Brown (in the digger), Caleb 
DeHamer and Dennis Sullivan.

The Fischer family, of Geneseo, received an early Christmas gift, even though it wasn’t wrapped in Christmas paper or tied with festive ribbon.

A septic tank was delivered and installed for the family to provide service for a handicap accessible bathroom included in a recent addition at the home of Dustin and Angie Fischer, necessary to provide space for the couple’s two children who have been diagnosed with a genetic blood disease, Erythropoietin Protoporphyria (EPP), which is described as a rare blood disease that causes damage to skin and organs when the children are exposed to visible light.

Jorden, 11, and his sister, Hailee, 5, live mostly in darkness, indoors, with little opportunity to play outside or participate in normal kid activities like school and sports.

A 32 x 24-foot addition was added to the family home in rural Geneseo earlier this year and more recently, the Fischers received a gift of a new septic system from Dennis Sullivan of Clean Earth Septic Service and A&E Soil, both of Geneseo; Triple D Excavating, of Orion, and Wilbert Vault Co., of Milan. Funds also were donated from members of a men’s Bible study at Heritage Church, in Rock Island, where Sullivan is a member.

The new bathroom is a “Godsend” said the children’s mother, Angie Fischer, who suffers from Dysautonomia, an illness that affects her autonomic nervous system and causes seizures.

Sullivan was contacted by Angie about the cost of installing the new septic system and he submitted a bid.”

“I submitted a bid of $4,800 and we were busy with several projects at the time, and I thought she was getting other bids,” he said.

Not long after being at the Fischer home, Sullivan recalled a story he read in the local newspaper about the Fischer children and realized the connection with the request from Angie.

Sullivan took charge of applying for necessary permits for the work and contacted other people in the industry involved with installing septic systems. He also told fellow members of his Bible study group at Heritage Church and the group contributed money for the project.

Arrangements were made for the installation of the septic system and Angie asked Sullivan about the total cost.

“I told her, ‘It’s Christmas time, and no money is needed,’” he said.

The next step is for fixtures to be installed and Angie said those have been purchased and will be installed by her brother, Michael VanSeveren, of Moline.

With the help of volunteers, VanSeveren has done much of the work on the addition and puts time in on the project on weekends. He also works at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Angie’s parents, Joyce and Dave VanSeveren, have moved in with the family to help with the children.

“My parents do the cleaning and laundry,” Angie said, admitting that she is almost bedridden. She sleeps in a recliner and explained if she is flat on her back, she will aspirate.

She explained her illness affects the autonomic nervous system which controls things like heart rate, breathing, GI track, brain function and vision.”

Her seizures also have caused dislocation of some limbs.

The Fischer children are homeschooled by their mother, and she said there are days when “it is too difficult for me.”

Even with the many difficulties, Angie also counts the many blessings the family has received, including the medical coating on the windows in the new addition which protects the children from sunlight.

“We also have it on our van,” she said. “We can’t open the windows to let air in, but as long as they can see out and see the world, that is truly a blessing.”

“I am so thankful for all the people who have helped us,” she said. “With all the bad going on in the world today, what a blessing it is to know there are people out there who care and who step up and make a difference. We have seen those people help us in our time of need.

“Something I say every day is that God gives us only what we can handle and there is a reason He put us on this path,” Fischer said. “I believe it is to make people aware of invisible illnesses. You may not visibly see it, but it is there, in my children and in myself. ‘What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ is our family motto.”