Haunted house with a heart

The patrons of the Haunted Angelus House find their vocal chords ringing out in fear after seeing what is not only frightful to the mind but to the entire body. Their hands sweat profusely as they grasp the hoodie of the leader guiding them through the vaguely lit maze. Their bodies tense as the ground beneath begins to rattle then fall slightly to the right. Their minds race as the walls grow bright in color and the path to follow is no longer clear. Their hearts beat rapidly as a masked figure appears out of what seems to be thin air without making a sound.

The end is near…or what seems to be the end. An engine revs, and a shadow of someone…or something sitting in the wide corner becomes visible.

But, although this house is frightful, it is also just as helpful. As the patrons move slowly, they advance through the unusually large pathways. They reach each and every different scene and stand in immense rooms that are large enough to fit several wheelchairs.

The directors of the Haunted Angelus House want this to be a haunt with a heart.

They have goals of improvement that they hope grow each and every year, not just in frightening those who go through, but in making this house accessible to all and also in donating to more and more charitable foundations and organizations.

Kristen Decker, the director’s daughter, says that the Haunted Angelus House is improving. She hopes that the word is out about the haunted house and that they are able to give back even more to the charities.

“It’s bigger and better every year,” Decker said. “This year is no exception.”

The Haunted Angelus House was just a creative idea thought up by a pair of brothers, Ron Surenkamp, who currently resides in Indiana, and Donny Surenkamp, who lives in Florida. The haunted house was brought to life four years ago when Ron Surenkamp was talking to a young lady that would occasionally visit his store here in Indiana and told her that he was going to make a haunted house that was 100 percent wheelchair accessible.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making the Haunted Angelus House happen. Many hours are put forth by the volunteers and makeup artists. All of these people are putting forth their time and effort and receiving nothing in return other than the satisfaction of saying that they are a part of something that is giving back to the community.

Director Jeff Gammon says that he is just one of many that put plenty of hours into the haunted house.

“It’s almost like a family,” Gammon said. “We are always open to anyone who wants to bring us new ideas.”

The name The Haunted Angelus House originates from the Angelus House, which is a group home for Cerebral Palsy, in Florida. The home was founded in 1979 and the giving continues to live on today, according to theangelus.com. The Angelus House was a home for eight children. When they grew up and no longer attended school, the directors started a day program center. They used a portable classroom at first for the this program, but the portable classroom became too small. In 1990, community volunteers came together and constructed a building for the program. Now The Haunted Angelus gives back to community in honor of the Angelus House.

The list of giving continues with the Jr. Diabetes Foundation. As well as donating to different foundations, they donate 500 tickets for the haunted house to military veterans and their families each year, they work with the Special Olympics to allow the athletes to go through for free, they collect canned food items for local food drives to help with Haunt Out Hunger and they help the Indiana Blood Clinic with a blood drive.

Decker says that The Haunted Angelus House is still reaching out to more local foundations and that it is just what they do.

“It keeps contacting more and more people,” Decker said. “It is just fantastic to be able to have fun, do that and benefit not only the Angelus House, the original locations charity, but all the other local places here.”

This year alone, the Haunted Angelus House has donated $100,000 to Angelus house and their goal is to give $20,000 more before the year is over.