ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Lisa and Jerry Todd opened their front door shortly after 8 Monday morning, in rushed the Murset family, an RV-load of six kids and their parents from outside Phoenix who had never met the Todds.
Within 10 minutes, the Murset girls were climbing ladders to wash the Todds’ windows, indoors and out, and the boys were crouching down with water and rolls of paper towels to wash the Todds’ cars.
The Mursets (parents Kami and Gregg, plus four sons and two daughters ages 7 to 16) plan to stop in at the homes of 20 families in 20 days, fulfilling their goal of helping people across the country while seeing sights like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty their kids have never visited.
“This is like my dream,” said Kami Murset after wiping large interior living room windows. “To have all my kids doing something good. When they reach outside themselves, it feels good and I know they’re feeling that, and as a mom you can’t ask for anything more.”
The trip was planned so the kids could practice the “Do Some Helpful Chores and Stuff And Get Some Rewards For It” theme of an app called myjobchart, which family patriarch Gregg Murset created. It allows kids to track their chores and earn points toward money that they can donate to charity.
To turn the purpose of the app into a family adventure, the Mursets decided to hit the road, doing chores for people affiliated with charities with which myjobchart partners.
In the Todd family, that charity is the MPS Society, because the middle brother, Jack, 11, has mucopolysaccharidosis II (MPSII), also known as Hunter syndrome, which 1 in every 100,000 people are born with, most of them male.
The symptoms that Jack, who is on the milder end of the spectrum, had before his diagnosis three years ago were fatigue and difficulty breathing and bending his fingers, because those with the disease lack an enzyme that clears debris from cells. Without the enzyme, people with more severe cases can suffer brain development issues, hearing loss and shorter life spans. Jack’s treatment is a four-hour weekly infusion of a synthetic form of the hormone his body doesn’t produce.
When asked how he felt about newcomers traipsing into his house and cleaning it up, he said, “Wacky!”
Within minutes of the Mursets’ arrival, everyone was pitching in, mostly outdoors. “You want me to come wipe?” Gregg asked his oldest son, Zach, 16, while he was washing the car of Jerry Todd, 41, a financial planner.
“Yeah,” Zach said. “I Armor-alled and I washed.”
Before Gregg had time to get involved, Zach told his younger brother, Adam, 11, to go back over a front tire with his towel. “You want to do it again, because you didn’t put enough juice on it.”
“It’s really cool,” said college baseball player Jake Todd, 20, the oldest of the three Todd brothers. “Not a lot of people know about MPS and it’s nice to know people are out there that want to help.”
After spending what was apparently enough time cleaning, Jack went upstairs with his 8-year-old brother, Jaden, who said he initially planned to become a scientist to find a cure for Jack’s disease but is now leaning more toward robotics engineering. They played the video game Infinity with the youngest two Murset boys as if they’d been friends for years.
It’s been a busy adventure so far. On Saturday, the Mursets departed from Queen Creek, Ariz., and began living in their 33-foot RV. The parents sleep in a small bedroom in the back, on the wall of which is a map with a magic marker line indicating their planned stops.
“I think it’s gonna be cool,” Sierra Murset, a 15-year-old high school sophomore with braces, said of the 20-day adventure. “We get to help people.”
After a few hours at the Todds’, the Mursets were ready to go. Their next stop was the Ronald McDonald house to make 100 breakfast burritos before getting into the RV on the way to Denver. Other stops include San Antonio, Texas; Chicago; Atlanta; and New York.
When they were ready to leave, windows were sparkling and, outside, the cars gleaming. “It’s great; it’s awesome!” said Jack’s mother, Lisa Todd. “It’s much needed.”