Fire destroys Lee's Summit house while homeowner recovers from stroke

Mary Guthrie Has Helped Special Need Children

On Monday morning, family and volunteers salvaged what they could from the Lee's Summit house of a woman who has helped hundreds of special needs children.

"It's overwhelming when you go inside and see everything burned up," Steven Marshall, a volunteer said.

The morning after Christmas, flames and smoke destroyed the house of Mary Guthrie.

This hadn't only had been Guthrie's home since 1994, but the two-story house was part of "Giant Step," a program that she created to help children and young adults with special needs.

Signs of the program's happier moments survived the fire. In the backyard, the children's fish still swim in the ocean that Guthrie painted for them.

"People who don't know what she was doing here with Giant Step might have been driving by and thought, 'that's a bit out there', but that's the kind of outside of the box thinking my mom had for special needs children," Mickey Tavenner, Guthrie's daughter who herself was born with perforated eardrums and was a nurse with the program said.

Guthrie's devotion and dedication extended beyond the special needs children and into the community.

Ben Martin met her while working at the local community theater.

"Mary is a force of nature when she gets something going and wants to get it done and what every way she can to make sure it does happen," Martin said.

Guthrie is also a fighter — battling ovarian cancer in 1996 and then undergoing chemotherapy for lupus.

Now while trying to recover from a stroke, her house that didn't have homeowners insurance was consumed by flames.

"My mom's motto was always 'It's not how long you're here, it's are you having a good time while you're here?" Tavenner said.

Two funds have been set up to help Guthrie with her house and other expenses.

For Tax Deductible Donations you may write a check payable to: 

Autism Outreach Fellowship 501(c)(3), In the Memo Line write Mary Guthrie Fund. Mail Checks to: Autism Outreach Fellowship, P.O. Box 2407, Lee's Summit, MO 64063

Non-Taxable Donations can be made to: Commerce Bank Account #1234571797.

Her family said that Guthrie will be giving away whatever is salvageable from the destroyed house to charity.

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