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Wells Fargo Awards Second $250,000 “What Makes a Home” Contest Winner

Toddler’s Health Journey Inspired Video Entry by His Mother


Lisa Stenzel of Timnath, Colorado knew that home was the best place for her special-needs son Ty to heal and grow. His tough journey to become a happy, healthy toddler inspired the video she entered to win the Wells Fargo “What Makes a Home” contest. The win will help the family reach a number of their financial goals that include purchasing their current home and fulfilling Stenzel’s desire to publish a children’s book series, inspired by son Ty. 

“This is changing our lives,” Stenzel said. “It’s still hard to believe it’s true.”

Stenzel and her husband, Rocky, have three children between the two of them: Ty, Madison and Emma. The contest win was a big surprise for Rocky, who did not know his wife had entered the contest until she told him she had won. When he saw the video, he got emotional. “It brought back a lot of memories and it made me cry,” he said. “I’m really proud of her. She did a great job.”

Stenzel, who owns a commercial cleaning business, and her family are the second of three winners who will be awarded $250,000 for submitting, in words and images, an answer to the contest question: “What makes a place feel like a home?” The entry can be viewed at

“We are thrilled to share in the excitement of the Stenzel family as our second contest winner and glad the funds will move them closer to their financial goals,” said Greg Gwizdz, executive vice president and retail sales manager, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. “We get so much inspiration from our families and that showed in this entry. It’s easy to see how this little boy has brought so much joy into this home.”

The video is a moving glimpse of the family focused on the health challenges faced by its youngest member, Ty, who has Down syndrome. Born premature, he endured nine surgeries before he was two years old. But Stenzel said she knew if the family could just get him home from the hospital, the love and care he would receive at home would be the best thing for his progress. While the first image of Ty in the video shows him in the hospital, the last shot is of an energetic child, with a big smile sitting on a favorite toy. Stenzel said Ty is a constant inspiration to everyone. Even his sister Emma has been moved to get involved with other special-needs children at her high school.

“It has so changed our family,” she said. “And the girls are in love with him and are so good with him.”

“When you get the Down syndrome verdict you feel like your life is over because of all of the things you had planned,” she added. “But it really is a blessing. I don’t know that I would have written what I wrote for the contest if not for Ty. You can’t help but smile when you see him. Down syndrome is not a disability. It’s definitely a gift.”

Ty’s experience inspired Lisa to write stories for him. These fun and adventurous stories became a series of 26 children’s books that she now hopes to share with others.

 “I’ve always enjoyed writing, and it’s been a lifelong dream to be a published author,” she said. “I wanted him to have the same opportunities as my daughters so I wrote stories for him – one for each letter of the alphabet. In these stories he has the same friends and adventures and imagination as any other little boy. I hope they will help other families too"

Because Ty’s sister Madison battles with Dyslexia, Stenzel wrote the stories using a special font to make it easier for those with Dyslexia to read. They also include imagery with sign language visuals, which is also helpful to Ty, who doesn’t speak yet but knows about 50 signs.

The contest was open to consumers nationwide May 12 through Aug. 31. An independent panel of judges applied criteria that included well-defined messages that were unique, uplifting and sincere. To be eligible, consumers were required to submit a complete mortgage loan application with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage for the purchase of residential real estate between April 1, 2014 and August 31, 2014. Loan applications were not required for contestants in AZ, CO, IA, MD, MN, NJ, ND or TN.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.6 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.


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