16 Curb Appeal - Finalist #3: The Kaufman family from Elkhart

When it comes to keeping the yard looking nice, couples often share the work. After all, there's plenty to do with the lawn, flowers, trees and shrubs.

Our third finalists for the 16 Curb Appeal contest share much more than day to day chores, though.

The Kaufman family in Elkhart has been through tragedies that not only shaped their lives, but brought them closer together.

When there's an emergency, seconds count.

"You have to be mentally strong and use your judgment and your training and make it a favorable outcome for your patient," Nick Kaufman explains.

He's a firefighter and paramedic for the city of Mishawaka and lives nearby in Elkhart with his wife Shelby.

"I couldn't be prouder," she says. "I have the utmost respect for him."

Shelby entered the 16 Curb Appeal contest to say thanks.

"I entered for him because it's my way of showing that I appreciate him and everything he does for us and the community. I just think the world of him," she explains.

Nick became a firefighter after a series of tragic events in his life. He was once married to his high school sweetheart Jessica, and together they had a little boy named Ethan.

All was well, until Jessica became very sick with a blood disorder and died.

One of Nick's best friends, Arick Ramsey, moved in with him to help.

"He was the friend who stepped up and said, 'Yeah, I'll come stay with you for a while and help you get through this," Nick recalls.

But Arick had his own problems. He was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic terminal illness that attacks the body's lungs and other organs.

Arick's fiancé was Shelby.

"The way she cared for him and stood by his side, days on end and months on end in the hospital by his side... It was unbelievable," Nick says.

Arick became very ill and was put on the transplant list. It wasn't long before he got the call and received new lungs and a pancreas. It was a rare surgery that made news headlines. WNDU even did a story on Arick in 2007.

"We always said before the transplant, even if it got him six more months, that he would be happy. And that's what it got him," Shelby explains.

Sadly, infections and organ failure set in.

"The doctor said every complication he could have had, he did have," Shelby remembers.

Arick Ramsey died in December of 2007.

"Unless you've been through it, you just don't know," Shelby says, with tears in her eyes.

This time, Nick was there for Shelby. United in grief, their love grew strong over time.

"He would come over and check on me, and it just bloomed," Shelby explains.

A few years later, the two were married, and soon they added to the family. Keaton was born two years ago.

"He's a typical two-year-old. He gets into everything," Shelby admits. "He definitely keeps me busy, keeps me on my toes. He absolutely adores his big brother, and I think that feeling is pretty mutual."

Nick and Shelby admit they're the happiest they've been in a very long time.

"We've done it together, and we started a new life for ourselves and our children, and for once things feel like they're coming together," Nick says.

"Going through difficult times in life, you don't take things for granted later on," Shelby adds. "I feel blessed every day."



Now that you've seen all three 16 Curb Appeal finalists, it's time to vote. The winner will receive new landscaping from Linton's Enchanted Gardens.

Voting will end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 17.

Click here to visit the voting page.


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