Robert and Vivian Z – Rebuilding Day Homeowners
Robert Z is known for being “tougher than a $2 steak.” Growing up on the family farm in Northeastern Oklahoma, he started herding cattle when he could walk with his dog, wearing his father’s extra-large jacket that drug the ground. When he reached his teens, Robert took a job with a neighboring rancher breaking wild broncos. At 19, he raced his first (and last) speed car race, which left him nine months in the hospital and with only one hand. After marrying his sweetheart, he moved to Liberal, Kansas and opened a truck mechanic shop. Despite his limitations, Robert was named the “best mechanic in the nation” by Overdrive Magazine. For thirty years, truckers would come from all over the U.S. to have Robert tune their trucks.
His wife, Vivian, is just as amazing. She has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus since her teenage years. Due to her health, Vivian has had several miscarriages and the couple lost one baby. Robert and Vivian are blessed to have three living children, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Vivian has made a career out of writing novels based on her families’ experiences. She even founded her own publishing company to market her writing. Vivian has written stories based on her husband Robert, and two of her grandchildren.
The book “Stolen” tells the story of the two grandchildren, who were kidnapped at a young age by their father. Vivian used her love of writing to write notes to her grandbabies each year on the anniversary of their disappearance. When blogging became popular in the 1990s, Vivian began posting these letters to her personal blog. In 2008, a friend living in Europe wanted to share Vivian’s letter to help spread the word. Shortly after, a young man in Europe emailed Vivian, believing he was the grandson who had been missing for 12 years! Miraculously, this young man was right. Robert and Vivian were reconnected with their two grandchildren.
This family truly believes that nothing is impossible. Though Robert has spinal stenosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and is confined to a power chair, he still makes repairs to his cars. He enjoys watching his grandkids play ball and attending concerts, and he always has a smile on his face. Vivian is working on a sequel to her “Stolen” novel. The couple’s son, who was born with brain damage, received his PhD and plans on teaching at a university. Their second son served in the armed forces and suffers from severe PTSD, but with the help of his service dog, his desire is to follow in big brother’s footsteps and get his PhD also. And their daughter, recently reconnected with two of her babies, is continuing her education and raising a family as a single parent.
A Rebuilding Day team will provide free repairs and renovations for Mr. and Mrs. Z this April. The team will remove and replace the bathtub in the couple’s bathroom, remove the carpet and replacing flooring, build ADA ramps to the garage, outside patio and front door, replace doors, repair windows, change out light fixtures, repair siding and sheet rock throughout the home, and paint the entire interior of the home.
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