Home For Hope

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The Braden’s Hope Home Tour opened the door to continued progress by raising funds to support childhood cancer research.

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photography by Matt Kocourek

What do you get when a beautiful custom-built home, a group of compassionate people, and a charitable organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for childhood cancer cross paths? You get the Braden’s Hope Home Tour. This recent tour was an incredible success, and it would not have come to fruition without the support of the builder, the homeowners, and the Braden’s Hope organization itself.

Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer is a non-profit organization committed to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. The organization strives to deliver hope to children and families fighting cancer. The Braden’s Hope Home Tour is one such way to embrace this mission and vision.

“At Braden’s Hope, we look for ways to connect with businesses and groups to raise awareness about the critical need for childhood cancer research,” explained Kim Stanley, Executive Director of Braden’s Hope. “Sadly, only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes directly to childhood cancer research.”

In the 11 years since Braden’s Hope was founded, $4.7 million has been raised for childhood cancer research. While in the first few years, those funds were spread across the country, they are now earmarked for local cancer centers. Children’s Mercy Hospital is the only free-standing hospital between St. Louis and Denver, so it serves an expansive population and region.

“The Braden’s Hope Home Tour is a unique event that brings the community together to showcase a beautiful home and give hope to children fighting cancer by helping fund much needed research,” expressed Azure Miller, Director of Marketing and Communications for Braden’s Hope. “While the home tour is an opportunity to see an exquisite home, it’s inspiring to see the homeowners, builder and community join forces to do what they can to make a difference for kids.”

Braden’s Hope Home ~ Summerwood Estates, Overland Park, Kansas

Homeowners Katie and Eric Gillis didn’t have to go far to move into this beautiful estate home. They already lived in the neighborhood.  They simply upgraded to a more customized home in the estate portion of the community. They love Summerwood Estates and want to stay connected, so they partnered with Rodrock Homes, who built their first home there, to build this second one for them.

With five bedrooms and 8 bathrooms across nearly 7,500 square feet, this story-and-a-half home with a transitional vibe exudes warmth, personality, and style, all in accordance with the family who resides here.

“Our previous home was a bit more traditional, and we wanted to add contemporary touches to this one but still hold on to a classic, lasting style,” shared Katie.

From the ornamental touches to the architectural input of this home, every space has its purpose. If paradise had an address, this would be it. Its open and airy style sets the stage for the warm and welcoming ambiance it presents. Every room was contemplated with care.

“I have a lot of opinions on design, and Megan Gensky, the interior designer with Rodrock Homes, helped me with my ideas and built upon them,” expressed Katie.

The majestic kitchen and adjoining dining space with a 12-foot ceiling from which a wonderful view of the backyard pool, hot tub and fire pit can be seen, undoubtedly serves as a popular gathering spot.

“I wanted the dining area just off the kitchen so we could have one big space where everyone could sit when we entertain,” noted Katie, who enjoys the expansive 11-foot table during the holidays. The adjoining large windows offer abundant natural light and are outfitted with automatic shades. 

The pantry, almost like a mini kitchen in itself, has a grocery door that opens into the garage. There are a total of four garages, in two units of two, with the mudroom in between them from which access can be made from either set of garages. This area is one of Katie’s favorite rooms, most notably for its functionality.

“I keep my office in there, and it also has five lockers for the kids to keep their things,” she smiled.

More than just function, however, this home sets the stage for layers of eye-catching aesthetics.

“We really tried to bring in textures from the outdoors into the home,” remarked Eric, referencing the brick, stone, and lap siding on the outside of the home that can be found within the interior spaces.

“We have a white brick fireplace on the lanai and brought that same brick inside into the kitchen and into the gym,” he said. “This gives the spaces a fun but elegant look.”

A favorite room of Eric’s is his main floor office, which has a glass and steel door and is located just off the dining room with private access to the pool.

“The office also has a full bathroom and closet,” he said.

The family room is highlighted with a cast stone fireplace adorned with gold trim and flanked by built-in cabinets. The main laundry room sets forth an industrial look. The black honed granite countertops stand in harmony with the penny tile flooring. 

The main level master suite is a luxurious escape, especially when it comes to the spa-like bathroom. The marble heated tile in a charming mosaic pattern adds decided interest to the space. The 12” x 24” tile pieces with heavy veining in the shower amplify the gray color, while the clear alder cabinets bring in the desired warmth. There is also ample storage for linens and cosmetics, as well as a vanity in the middle where Katie can sit and get ready for the day.

“We placed electrical outlets inside the cabinets to keep them from being exposed,” she noted.

In addition to the upper-level bedrooms, there is a cozy loft, which offers a great place to watch TV, play video games, or attend to some homework assignments.

“This is just a great space for the kids to hang out with their friends,” indicated Katie.

Joining Forces ~ With Braden’s Hope

Before enjoying this stunning home for themselves, it was a true honor and privilege for the Gillis family to share their spaces with the Braden’s Hope community.

“We have a friend who serves on the board and when she asked us if we’d be interested in having our home as a Braden’s Hope house, we loved the idea of giving back in that way,” said Katie. “It was a great way for us to be more involved with the organization which we admired from afar initially, and we fully support its purpose.”

Eric added, “When we approached Rodrock, they were 110% on board from the start. This just made the building experience that much more enjoyable, and we were very impressed and grateful for the way they handled it all.”

Rodrock Homes ~ Building a Home on a Foundation of Hope

Jeff Gifford, owner and COO of Rodrock Homes, was honored to be a part of this project.

“This was the first time we’ve done something to this scale,” he noted. “We do give back to the community in other ways, but this was definitely something different for us. It was an honor to build the house of their dreams, and it was even more of an honor since this is the second home they’ve had us build for them. They took one of our existing floor plans and made it their own from a   structural and design standpoint. Tim Suiter, a personal builder who works for us, worked with Eric and Katie to make their dreams come true.”

“We are proud of our subs for their participation and for how our vendors stepped up and donated their time and resources, for which we are grateful,” indicated Gifford, who hopes to partner with Braden’s Hope again in the future.

“It is an awesome organization, and we had a great time,” said Gifford. “They made it easy for us to do.”


  • Builder/Contractor: Rodrock Homes
  • nterior Designer: Megan Gensky Interiors
  • Project Designer: Rodrock Homes – Tim Suiter
  • Architect: FRK Designs, Inc – Fred Kohlmeyer
  • Appliances: Factory Direct Appliance
  • Audio / Video: Bravas
  • Cabinets: Miller Custom Cabinets
  • Countertops: SCI Surfaces
  • Doors: McCray Millwork
  • Drywall: High Definition Drywall
  • Electrician: Electrical Investments
  • Excavation: JAG Excavating
  • Fireplace: Midwest Fireplace
  • Firepace Mantle: ADI
  • Flooring Carpeting: Con Carpet Tile & Design
  • Flooring Hardwood: SVB Wood Floors
  • Florist / Porch Pot Designer: Rosehill Blooms
  • Foundation: Premier Foundation
  • Furniture: ArHaus
  • Framing: New Style Homes LLC
  • Garage Doors: Renner Garage Door
  • Glass & Mirrors: Olathe Glass
  • Hardware: Miller Custom Cabinets
  • Heating & Cooling: United Heating & Cooling
  • Light Fixtures: Wilson Lighting
  • Lumber: Teague Lumber
  • Masonry: KC Stone
  • Paint: Sherwin Williams 
  • Painter: Gecko Painting
  • Plumbing: Nachbar Plumbing
  • Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
  • Roofing: Royal Roofing
  • Specialty Painting (Garage Doors): Faux KC
  • Stone: KC Stone
  • Stone (in Study): Builders Stone
  • Tile: Con Carpet Tile & Design
  • Trim Work: Acopa Custom Trim
  • Windows: Pella
  • Window Coverings: One Stop Decorating
  • Landscaping, Hardscaping & Landscape Lighting: EPIC Landscape Productions
  • Pool / Spa / Outdoor Firepit: River Pools Kansas City
  • Sprinkler System: EPIC Landscape Productions
  • Fencing: Heartland Fence

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