The Family

Sue Spece focuses on her children's abilities rather than their disabilities. The Independence, Iowa mother has dedicated her life to helping her children achieve their goals.

Even with the physical challenges, her children, Josh, 34, Jackie, 32, and Jacob, 24, have all completed college. Josh studied horticulture at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo. He and Sue started In the Country Garden and Gifts 16 years ago. The family recently moved the business from their farm on a dead-end gravel road to a site along W35, the Quasqueton Diagonal. The new location is next to Sue's parents JoAnn and the late George Johnston's farm. The new greenhouse and gift store opened April 1, 2012.

In the Country Garden and Gifts specializes in hostas, water plants and succulents. Josh sells 300 to 400 varieties of hostas, and his display gardens have a large variety of hostas. Their gift shop will sell garden art, gifts and greeting cards. They operate a mail order business via their website.

Jackie majored in health promotion and minored in dance at the University of Northern Iowa and owns Heinz Academy for the Performing Arts, which has dance studios in Cedar Falls and Independence.

"When Jackie went to UNI, she would tap dance with her hands," Sue said. "She had gloves with cleates and she'd tap on a board."

Jacob studied dairy science at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar. Sue drove him to school each day and waited in the van working on crafts while he attended classes.

Jacob custom raises dairy heifers for a neighboring farmer on his grandparents' farm. Before his grandpa died, he helped Jacob design and build the barn. Jacob received a grant from Iowa Self Employment to make the barn accessible for him. He hires a friend to help and calls his business Johnston Creek Farms.

The hardworking members of the Spece family are more comfortable offering help instead of asking for it. But they do need help. Even working as hard as they do, money is short, and time is shorter. Maneuvering her children through a non-accessible home takes too many hours of Sue Spece's day, and manually lifting adults in and out of wheelchairs is hard on her back. A comfortable home with a ceiling mounted lift system is desperately needed!