DALTON CITY - Just four months ago, Michelle Koslofski and Connie Doty sat across a table from each other.
The casual friends were guests at a send-off party for Bailey Huddleston in Parkway Church of the Nazarene.
The event was planned for Bailey before she underwent a bone marrow transplant as a means of improving her quality of life, according to the Web page that updates her daily progress. Bailey was diagnosed soon after birth with a rare bone disease, osteopetrosis, a form of brittle bones.
At that party, the women discussed the options the family would be facing once Bailey was allowed to return home. They knew she'd need to be living in a sterile environment, a home which would even require specific cleaning procedures to be followed daily. A new house seemed an answer.
"We thought about 'Extreme Makeover,' but the paperwork was so intense, we dismissed that particular idea," Doty said.
"We kind of made a pact that day," Koslofski said.
"Then we thought, 'Why couldn't we pull our community together and see if we can't do this?' " Doty said.
"Our time is short. It's just so important that we get her in a place where she can get better," Koslofski said. "We don't need a home theater or a pool. A home: That's all we want."
So, Team Bailey, a nonprofit corporation, grew out of that party.
Friday, the women and about 50 others participated in the groundbreaking for a home for Bailey and her family, a home being built by donations coordinated through Team Bailey.
What they did was compile a list of what they would need, Doty said. Then they made appointments, told people and businesses what those needs were. And waited.
"We haven't spent one penny. We have had everything donated," Doty said, including contributions from the Amish community to Decatur businesses, from Effingham to Mount Zion, from throughout Macon County and beyond.
"The roof was the first thing to be donated," Koslofski said.
Monday, a crew moved the family's former manufactured home off the lot to make way for the house, a home that will have 1,480 square feet of space, including three bedrooms and garage.
"The family has seen (the plans)," Doty said, though Bailey and her mother, Heather Harminson, remain in the hospital while she recovers from the transplant performed there about three weeks ago.
Jon Plain, president of the Metro Decatur Homebuilders Association, said a lot of volunteers are committed to helping build the house.
"This is the first time we've done an undertaking like this," Plain said on the night of groundbreaking. "We're hoping three months to completion."
During the groundbreaking event, Doty said Team Bailey building a house was not only important for the young girl and her family but for the entire community.
"There are some wonderful people in this town, in this county," said Bruce Huddleston, Bailey's grandfather.
Koslofski said while they have received donations to cover the house construction, they also received funds donated from events at Mount Zion Grade, Mount Zion Intermediate and McGaughey schools. Bailey was in third grade at Mount Zion Grade at the time of her transplant and will remain out of school for the next year, Koslofski said.
The Rev. Bill Pyatt of Mount Zion United Methodist Church suggested during groundbreaking the Team Bailey project was a "God thing."
Koslofski agreed, saying, "I've never built a house. It's funny how God takes things and turns it and puts that drive into your heart."
Early Monday morning, Cripe Manufactured Housing Services pulled into Dalton City, hooked up a manufactured home and took it away, leaving behind bare ground near the above-ground pool provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The pool was a gift for Bailey Huddleston, now hospitalized and recovering from a bone marrow transplant. The manufactured home had been her family's, but the lot eventually will be the site of a home being built by Team Bailey, volunteers and businesses across Central Illinois.
While the men readied the manufactured home for transport, Gabbie Koslofski and her brothers, Kemper and Kolby, made a discovery. Well, two actually. Small toads.
"Look! Look!" Gabbie's excited voice told her mother, Michelle Koslofski, who formed Team Bailey with Connie Doty to build the house.
After naming the toads Hopper and Frogger, Gabbie proclaimed they would be safe in a neighbor's pond, where she would take them.
Perhaps it was a sign of good things for Team Bailey.
It turns out that frogs, or resident toads, in this case, are a favorite of Bailey's, so much a favorite that Team Bailey has a frog on its signature T-shirts.