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Season Of Hope: The Lemkes Of Belle Plaine

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – All December long, WCCO’s been making the season brighter for families whose stories touched us this year.

Earlier this month, a fire destroyed the Lemke family’s barn in Belle Plaine.

They lost their kids’ outdoor toys and some special chickens that were used as therapy for their son’s ADHD.

We invited the Lemkes to WCCO in downtown Minneapolis for a Christmas surprise we hope they’ll never forget.

Their visit was a break from reality; a reality that had left them with no hope for a merry Christmas.

On Dec. 7, the barn on the property they rent in Belle Plaine caught fire.

Crews from across the area did what they could to save it, but the flames had a head start.

The barn was destroyed, and everything in it as well.

Two dozen chickens and two roosters perished. The chickens were used to help 9-year-old Collin, who has not been the same without his animals.

All of the family’s Christmas decorations, outside toys, bikes and scooters were lost in the fire.

And so were the Christmas gifts that mom Rosie Lemke was hiding from the kids.

Fortunately, the family is still together, and they managed to make decorations for the family tree.

In early December, Rosie told WCCO that she and her husband had only one wish.

Weeks later, it was time to fulfill that wish, big time.

First, the family watched a message from a Wisconsin farmer who offered new chickens for Collin.

Then after some hot chocolate and a tour of new WCCO Rooftop, it was back to the studio for a surprise.

With Mom and Dad standing by, the boys ripped apart wrapping paper and opened boxes.

Jacob lost his bike in the fire, but now he has a new one to ride to school. And the Power Wheels that Collin loved so much has been replaced with a brand new model.

From scooters to mini iPads, and from sleds to Legos, these kids were showered with gifts – just like Mom and Dad wanted to do on Christmas Day.

Several Boy and Cub Scout troops near Belle Plaine have volunteered to build the Lemkes a new barn this spring.

After that, Collin will get a delivery of as many chickens as the new barn can hold.

Thanks to Slumberland Furniture and Pandora Jewelry, our proud partners in this Season of Hope.

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